I don’t talk to my plants. Well that’s a fib. I don’t talk to my plants when anyone is around. Now don’t call for the guys in the white coats just yet, the plants don’t answer me—yet. Besides I only say stuff like, “How’s that? Enough water?” Regular plant talk stuff. I talk to inside plants and yes the outside plants. So when fall comes and I have to cut back of the outside plants I have a hard time walking towards plants in the planters with my handy dandy, always in my back pocket, True Value box cutter and my sharp as a tack shears in my hand, hiding behind my back. I can almost—almost– hear the dried leaves and hard stick like stems shaking in the dirt. Oh it’s hard, but I do it.
I didn’t always take care of the plants in fall. I thought that the old stuff would just decay and feed the plant. Well that might happen, after like ten years. But if you don’t clean out the old stuff for ten years you might as well throw a match in the whole pile of leaves and dirt and dead bugs and cat poop and all the other stuff that happens over time outside in the beds where your plants make their homes.
Is there a type “B” personality? I know I am not a type “A”. Type A would be out there as soon as there is just a tint of brown on the leaves of the iris plants. Cutting and primping. Type A sees that the poor orange poppies are being strangled by the old tulip leaves that should have been take out in late May! Type A sees the seed pods on those plants that have the little blue flowers, (whatever they are called), are ready to be harvested and put into a baggie to give to my friend that I promised to her in July. But I haven’t even thinned out the Johnnie Jump Ups that seem to have taken over the ever-bearing strawberry plants. I seem to only grow the strawberries for the birds since I only harvest the berries if I happen to walk by and there is a speck of red showing in my direction.
Let’s go back to that cleaning out of old stuff. Imagine not cleaning out anything for ten years. What would be the problem with that? Since we already have discussed the flower beds, and what a slimy gooey mess that could be, so much so that no matter what kind of gardening gloves you wear you would get gunk on your hands, let’s move inside.
When we bought a new home some years ago, I remember asking the guy who laid the carpet what was the best way to keep it looking new. He said to vacuum once a week and shampoo at least once a year, twice would be better. Well with all the intention of a Type A person hiding within the façade of a Type B, I remember agreeing and saying that should be a snap to remember and do. To my bad, it was probably 5 years before I ever shampooed the carpet in that house! I just kept vacuuming every so often. Doing spot cleaning with spray cleaning stuff and wiping with a paper towel (no I didn’t blot, I rubbed). And I just covered more and more of the carpet with more and more furniture.
I think it finally hit me when we got a new couch and the carpet under the old couch was this beautiful color and the stuff in front of the couch was—well it was not a beautiful color. Ya, I bet that kinda sounds familiar to someone, somewhere…
But more than plants, and carpet cleaning and even cleaning the stuff out of the back, I mean the WAY back of your refrigerator, how about cleaning the stuff out of your brain. The old stuff that you are holding onto. Spite. Anger. Longing. All those, could’ve, should’ve, would’ve things that bubble up when you least expect them. Letting that stuff fall away from you is pretty darn hard. Especially if they have been there for quite some time.
Okay, so I held onto the fact that I didn’t get to go to college. I blamed by parents, my high school counselor, the stars, the weather. But what I didn’t see until recently was that I was to blame. It was my decision to get a job and stay and enjoy life as I knew it. The heavy burden of all those what ifs has finally fallen away from me and it is pretty darn freeing. So good in fact that I am going to clean out those flower beds with new vim and vigor—tomorrow.
Life-it’s a process.
Trina lives in Eureka. Her book ITY BITS is on Kindle. Share with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.