Friday, September 30, 2011

Instant Gratification

Instant gratification doesn't happen very often. Not in science or writing. The best scientific experiments raise more questions than answers, and I don't think I've ever written anything that I didn't revise at least three times. And then there's the process of submitting: waiting... w a i t i n g . . .  w  a  i  t  i  n  g. 

I've been doing a lot of that lately. Waiting. By the end of last week, I was trying to make myself write something, anything, just to take my mind off of the seven different submissions I've got out there.

Over the weekend, October peeked its head around the corner and waved. Hmm. One week left in September. If I wanted all those plants I'd bought to survive the winter, I needed to get them in soon. Time to put my weeks of landscape planning into action.

So we did. Beloved Husband and I (with the help of the kids) dug up the grass between our fence line and the sidewalk. Then we hand-tilled the (extremely hard, clay) soil underneath. We removed the soil, put the grass back in upside-down and covered it up with the soil that had been under it. (Following all this? There will be a quiz later.) It took two three-hour sessions to prepare ⅔ of the fence line.* (If you're wondering why we put the grass in upside-down and buried it, it will decompose and become compost. It also saved us having to figure out what to do with it once it was out.)

Have I mentioned that we're the crazy new neighbors in our conservative, midwestern neighborhood? We're the weird people from Germany who mow with an electric lawn mower. (Two months ago, when Beloved Husband first used it, our normally polite neighbors actually stopped and stared). But last week, one of our neighbors bought an electric mower, which meant we'd gone from crazy to trend-setting. Until we started digging, that is.

The next day, I set out my plants and started putting them in the newly tilled strip. Among comments from passersby about how much work I had cut out for me, I planted several kinds of native grasses and perennials - plants that, once established, will be drought tolerant and need less care than the grass did. They will attract beneficial insects like bees, lacewings, ladybugs, and butterflies. The grasses (when fully grown) will provide cover for birds that eat the pesty insects. And there will be flowers blooming in all different colors throughout the spring, summer, and fall.

Unlike my daily activities, I got to experience the (almost) instant gratification of seeing a project reach completion. it was hard work, but well worth it. And it provided the added benefit of taking my mind off of all those things I'm waiting on.

Oh, and the neighbors love it. Several asked what the different kinds of plants were. I wonder how long it will be before we go from crazy to trend-setting yet again?

* To do the rest of this strip and convert several other bits of lawn to garden areas, we're going to do it the easy way. Power landscaping tool rental, here we come.

What gratifying events have you experienced lately?


  1. Ah, yes, w a i t i n g on submissions...I am so there. Perhaps a landscaping quiz from you would provide closure in a small way -- bring it on! :) I hope we will see a photo of your native grasses and perennials once grown. Happy weekend, Alison.

  2. I think I need some of those!
    I need to set a trend of Astroturf in my neighborhood.

  3. You really want a quiz, Toby? I'm a bit rusty (haven't taught since last year), but I'm sure I could put one together. ;) I'll get a picture up. It doesn't look like much right now; lots of small plants, but I can't wait to see how it looks in 10 months! You have a great weekend, too!

    Alex, you sound like you enjoy tending the grass as much as we do! Except I prefer flowers and plants that are a little more visually interesting to, um, Astroturf. :)

  4. I like the idea of doing real, physical things that do in fact give us instant gratification when so many things are out of our control.

    That reminds me, today is the last day of September and I need to do your critique! Then I can say I got something worthwhile accomplished today! :-)

  5. The waiting is awful. Truly! But how awesome that you know how to garden like that! I wouldn't know where to begin to pick plants that would survive and attract beneficial insects and protect birds and be beautiful. You are a trendsetter :) good luck with those submissions!

  6. I'd say you got a lot accomplished yesterday, Julie--thanks for the great critique!

    Susanna: I've spent the past two months learning about native plants. if you want to do it, start at a local gardening center. the people there can help you find things that are native to your area. Research them online and you'll learn what kinds of benefits they can have. Thanks for the luck!