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June 01, 2010

Slope Climbing

Today all the kids were away and I decided to garden. As in pulling weeds and getting dirty. And it damned near killed me.

We had gardeners once. We had a really great team to come in every Friday and I so loved how manicured everything was.  We were just getting ready to have them do some real landscaping for us when I got laid off.  Paid gardeners were the first thing to go. And I wept a little bit.  

In a neighborhood where there is tremendous curb appeal and pride-of-ownership, our house is the eye sore. I hate that. And I'm quite certain my neighbors do too. And I have noticed a lot of weeds coming up like corn stalks and my neighbor across the street is trying to sell her house so I thought I should get to it before I was asked to. Because if it ever got to the point where anyone had to ask, I would be so embarrassed that I would have to move. Its bad enough to know they are thinking it.

Now in fairness, the "yard" in front of our house is a steep and huge slope at a damned near 90 degree angle so if you are serious about getting it in shape you practically have to go into training to prepare for it. We have nothing on it but ground covering because it is just impossible to keep up without serious expense. But today, Bob and I got a "bug" and decided to tackle it without the benefit of rock climbing gear.

We had our tools: A couple of spades, gloves, broom, shovel and off we went. I began with the weeds growing along the driveway. Within seconds I realized that I was not going to be able to spend the day bent over reaching for the ground so I carefully lowered myself with my bad knees and tried to get into a comfortable sitting position on the cement - this was not going to work out for me.  I decided to switch jobs.  I was going to try to take on the slope.

I have poured over countless landscaping books looking for ideas on slopes.  All I ever see are ideas for easy, only slightly sloped scapes.  No one, apparently has ever designed for such a slope as mine.  Trees might seem the solution but they would block the view of the neighbors behind us - up on the next grade.   I have even trolled the HGTV website looking for opportunities to have one of their design stars come out and do their magic.  I would be delighted to be the focus of and episode (or two) of their show "Curb Appeal".  But I don't think a one of them has the chops for my yard.  

But there are weeds galore springing up on the slope and turned my efforts toward them, here is what I learned:  Scaling the wall of our slope at its worst point is like trying to climb Everest. Trying to find my footing, I gingerly tested many spots until I could find a place that would sustain me.  I slid down the hill at least three time before (imagine a 52 year old woman sliding down a slope of pulpy succulent ground covering, arms flailing and trying to grab - what? - to catch her fall) but I was determined not to give my neighbors another "Lucy & Ethel" show. Finally finding a little crevice where I could wedge my foot sideways, I was just within reach of a little collection of weeds that had claimed a spot. But I had to bend over to get to it - no where to sit - and it was in this precarious position that I realized that I was likely - no definitely - displaying the dreaded "plumbers crack". What to do? What to do? I couldn't really even turn my body to see if anyone was around. I was mortified at the thought of appearing so tacky but I had come all this way...

The simple shift in focus to contemplate this conundrum was enough to alter the outcome of this endeavor.  My foot slipped and down I came, sliding backward and pulling the denims that were already exposing a hint of "cheek" down the rest of the way.  Fortunately, I was able to roll and pull-up before my neighbor - walking his dogs - got within eye-shot.  The back of my knee is really sore and my butt is bruised, but not nearly so badly as my ego.

In the end, the weeds don't look that bad right there.   

This is an original post for 50somethingmoms.  You can also catch me at www.dumpingmypurse.com.