Such Discerning Taste

20150325_114957We’ve been taking advantage of decent weather to clean up the yard, a task that includes lots of weeding, stick gathering, and dog poop removal. That one called for a dump truck and Hazmat suits. We ignore the canned ham-shaped metal blob in the yard and make a mental note to do something about Daisy.

I weed with a fervor that scares family members, ripping out invaders like a lion ripping apart a carcass. It’s been a rough few months. I have anger issues. Liriope is my victim. I hate monkey grass with a passion that exceeds Putin’s desire for “ze olt Russia.” I jab my weeding tool into the ground, loosen roots and pull. Out comes a football-field of monkey grass with roots so deep, I pulled up kung pao chicken.

One reason I enjoy The Taming of the Liriope is that the goal is well defined. I don’t worry that this monkey grass might be salvageable and has a life worth living. Or that the previous owner had award-winning designs in mind when she planted it. I hate the stuff. It goes. I wish I were that discerning with other aspects in my life.

I am the least discerning member of a family who has no discernment. We like everything and I like even more than that. If less is more, then more is better. I am a golden retriever. Everything is my favorite thing. “What is your trigger food?” a friend recently asked me as I complained about my weight.

“Food.” I replied.

She didn’t give up. “Sweet? Savory?”

“Yes,” I said. We had a four-hour, pony-hauling drive ahead of us. She gave up. She is a discerning woman.

I wish I were discerning. Being a golden retriever can be exhausting. Write a novel. My favorite thing! Write a blog. My favorite thing! Watch television mindlessly. My favorite thing! Go to Target. My favorite thing! The result is a cacophony of clutter that lives in my home, my mind and my facebook friend list.

Discerning people are successful people, according to Warren Buffet. “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything,” he said.

I’m screwed.

That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate those with discernment, people who can look at a situation, assess it and remove what they don’t want or no longer need. Minimalism is good, they say as they fill the Goodwill donation bin. But…I stutter, doesn’t the Rock Band set bring to life the memories of your son’s colorful middle school friends screaming “Dani California” into the night?

This inability to discern manifests in our yard. After we bought the property we learned that the former homeowners “had the most beautiful gardens!” Stories of garden parties and garden club tours filled my ears and my insecurities. The yard, like the house, was in disarray, neglected for several years because time is a cruel thief who takes away a woman’s health and then her life and then her husband’s desire to “keep it up.” When we bought the place from him, the only signs of once lovely gardens were brick borders holding back weeds that were mowed down each time the lawn maintenance company visited.

I proceeded slowly. First I would observe. What flora came up when? There were hyacinths. Two of them. Tulips. One. Lots and lots of vinca vine, that I hate almost as much as monkey grass. Another year passed. More plants rose from their memories of abuse and weed eaters, peaking out their heads to see if it were safe. Hostas. And some variegated broad leaf something that looked like a misplaced houseplant.

Then I began digging, pulling up weeds. I discovered stones. Big, heavy rocks in nearly every garden in the yard. I wondered if they had served as walking paths and then became buried under years of mulch and leaves. What on earth were her designs for her gardens, I wondered.

I remained tentative about pulling out existing plants, but began planting my own stuff where there were holes. Then some of her stuff would pop up in the middle of it. There is a saying among gardening types. “The first year it sleeps; the second year it creeps; the third year it leaps.” Apparently, a homily for a garden resurrecting itself is, “The first year it sleeps. The second year it hides. The third year it disappears and the eighth year, it erupts, full grown, consuming everything in its path.”

This, year, I kneel on my foam mat, weed tool in hand and I contemplate. Perhaps it is time for discernment for that other than monkey grass. I may not know whether the variegated broad leaf plant is a weed or not, but I do know whether I want it in the garden.

After several months of being stymied with Daisy, I have come to a similar conclusion. Once we dig through her rot and literally get to the bottom of things, I am not going to worry about whether something is original or is true to the period. I will discern what I want for Daisy.

Obviously, only a discerning woman would have a rusting camper in her back yard anyway.

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