We have so many backyard schemes to plant this first winter and spring in the new house: a kitchen garden, a fruit and nut orchard, a native wetland meadow and hedge along the flooding drainage ditch at the bottom of the garden. Big dreams to fill the bakery’s slow season. But before planting there are noxious weeds to dig out (again), fruit trees to take down and buck up (why did someone 1. plant trees with mild and uninspiring fruit along 2. the entire south property line and 3. pollard them once and then never prune them again?), old privacy fences (patched and propped and patched again) to mend or burn, drainage ditches to dig, a deer fence to build. I spent yesterday afternoon mucking through the future orchard, thinking about fruit trees and digging in drainage. The ground squished. The mud clumped on the soles and sides of my boots. The sod was heavy, the clay underneath even heavier. Worried I’d snap the shovel’s loose handle, I lifted the wedges of wet earth out with my hands. My gloves soaked through, and my cracked old boots. By the time E showed up with a chainsaw and began cutting trunk-sized water spouts off a cherry tree it was getting dark and the first ditch was nearly done. It was all great fun: the mud, the hard, wet work, the flicker of slash fires, and the crack of falling limbs. More akin to building waterworks from rock, sand, and kelp tubes—a favorite game on family backpacking trips to the coast when I was young—than to grownup labor. This morning I found the first ditch filling but not yet flowing. I itched to grab a shovel and correct the grade but, still in pajamas and with a half finished mug of coffee in hand, resisted. Tomorrow I’ll answer your emails (sorry!), pay quarterly taxes, research equipment. Today I’m putting on yesterdays clothes (hopefully dry) and going back out to play in the mud.
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