There's a scene in Douglas Adam's The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul where his character, Dirk Gently, is too scared to open his fridge, as it's been six months since he last did so, and he's afraid of what might have grown inside. In the end, he just dumps the fridge and buys a new one.
Unfortunately for me, you can't just dump a backyard, and so today, metaphorically speaking, I opened the fridge...
And, trust me - not fun!
Since Toby came along, it's funny, but a few of the things I used to get done regularly have sort of... slipped. Take mowing the backyard, for example. Generally I used to get this done about once a month. Not a difficult job, takes about half an hour.
But the arrival of son#1 has meant that I've been finding much more enjoyable things to do with my weekends and spare time. Playing, for example. In short, our backyard hasn't been mowed in nine months.
And boy, has it flourished. Day of the Triffids style. Apart from a couple of well worn game trails where the dog runs up and down and gives anyone on the walking path over the fence a hard time, we'd reached the point where you wouldn't want to venture into the middle of the yard without a map, compass, tent, food and an up-to-date last will and testament. Our yard had become the sort of place you'd expect to bump into the Victorian minister for water. Things came to a head last night when I discovered a guy calling himself Mr. Walker* living with a tribe of pygmies in a skull-shaped cave underneath the ornamental plum tree.
Add to this the fact that this is our dog's territory. And, like all dogs, Chelsea creates... byproducts. As a general rule, these get picked up and disposed of every couple of days, but with all that verdant forest to hide in, it was pretty obvious that, at some point during the course of the next mowing, the shit was, quite literally, going to hit the fan. So, like all such problems, I ignored it.
Note to self: Bad idea.
Anyway, push came to shove, and with our impending overseas trip looming, and a housesitter expected, it was decided that this afternoon one man and his dog would indeed go to mow a meadow.
Step 1: Start Lawnmower. This took fifteen minutes, half a can of WD40, a new spark plug, three of the knuckles on my right hand and one smashed pot plant. About normal, really.
Step 2: High level mowing. This took about an hour. Took the top layer off, using the lawnmower on its highest setting, in order to reveal the hidden delights below. Discovered: Large amounts of dog byproducts. Five dog toys. A bourbon bottle (most likely thrown over back fence, probably at dog.) Three mouldering bones. Four feet of rope and (oddly) a dirt-crusted squeaky toy I had never seen before in my life.
"This is exciting! I thought. Kinda like archelology, except without all the Nazis"
Step 3: Remove Dog byproduct. The less said about this, the better.
Step 4: Low level mowing. Blades close to the ground. Whirling around, really fast. You'd think that after 20 minutes and 3 shopping bags I'd have managed to remove all the dog byproduct, wouldn't you? You'd be wrong.
Step 5: Shut down mower. Start whipper snipper. (See step 1, above, except with more swearing.)
Step 6: Trim edges, fenceline, tree bases, toes, dog.
Step 7: Remove dog from yard.
Step 8: Restart whipper snipper. (See steps 1 and 5, above)
Step 9: Finish yard.
So that was my afternoon. Fun in the yard. On the bright side, I learnt a valuable lesson about yard maintainance, and we managed to get rid of those damn pygmies...
(*for the ghost who walks)