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The great outdoors

Usually a chore, lawn work a welcome diversion in 2021 by Gary Smith | April 30, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.

Apparently we are entering the 100 Days of Hell.

Yeah, I know: All things and recent events considered, is "entering" accurate?

Well, according to the lawn and garden industry, yes it is. To those fine folks, the period between Valentine's Day and July 4 is, on a seasonally and regionally adjusted basis, the time of year when they do 80% of their business. I'm not sure if those dates add up to 100 days , but, given all we've been through, does time really have any meaning anymore?

And since in the lawn and garden world, "business" equals extreme effort, well, you get the Hell part. They certainly do.

For me, the 100 days is pretty accurate, but it breaks down to about five hours of work and 99 days and 19 hours of complaining about it. I mean, if I'm going to be in Hell, it's doubtful from either a task-specific or general context that I'm going to be alone.

Also, I doubt I'm defining Hell in exactly the same way our friends in the lawn and garden business are. For them, it's backbreaking effort to get product to customers, answer non-stop questions and generally run around like a bunch of over-caffeinated squirrels in safety belts for 20-plus hours a day.

For me, I don't know, haul a few bags of mulch, buy some plants I'm likely to kill, dig a hole or two, realize there's a reason we grow cattle and chickens and not much stuff we have plant around here (the answer is rocks; lots of them), get a blister and whine about it.

Definitely seasonal work. Well, maybe not the whining part. That's more year round.

The thing is, despite the fact that I am a multi-functional whiner, I have a specific degree of disdain for yard work. Mostly because, well, it's hard. For me, we could stop right there, since I try to avoid hard work as much as I can, and am always interested in expanding the definition of "hard work" to be just about anything, including manually changing the channels on a television or having to wait longer than five minutes in a drive-through line.

Unfortunately, yard work is legit. I mean, as any farmer will tell you, repeatedly, "those holes don't dig themselves." And that mulch won't haul and spread itself. And that fertilizer ... OK, you get it. We could do this all day. Which is basically how long even the simplest yard task seems to take.

So, to get all Churchillian on you, never have so many done so much with so little interest in an effort to keep their neighbors and/or spouses from complaining. OK, he said it better. About something else.

And as far as the neighbors are concerned, well, sure, I want to be a team player and keep my yard looking presentable. By team player, I mean roughly what that meant when I was, in fact, on teams. Which was, the untalented player who actually wanted to sit on the bench and complain loudly if called on to do anything requiring effort.

So, not a lot has changed since high school. Or, with my efforts at gardening. Mulch can still only be required at the spot farthest from where you can mechanically deliver it, and the correct amount of mulch you need is always "one more bag than you have."

Whatever plant you have, it's wrong for wherever you want to plant it. And it will still die if you move it to where it should go since you've either watered it too little or too much or just right and it really, really didn't like you.

And calling green weeds "bad" and green grass "good" still seems awfully judgy to me.

But – and I will qualify this as a one-time thing unlikely to repeat itself – I'm sort of not all that upset about yard work this year. And not because I usually treat it like I do a physical: just go in once, get it over with and don't think about it much for 12 months.

This year, however, it's nice to be outside and worrying about something other than if there's a virus floating around that could kill me. One more reason to get vaccinated.

So, for me at least, this particular 100 days of Hell isn't too hellish. More like a little annoying with a side order of looking on the bright side. And if that seems out of character for anyone who knows me, don't worry. There's always next year.


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