Today, I am in pain. Here’s the story:
There are many things that I’m good at. Horticulture is not one of them. Generally, I kill plants. It’s genetic. My mom has generally killed plants, too. Her explanation is the same as mine: plants, unlike children and pets, don’t make noise when they need something. So they will at some point become too dehydrated to make it back to health when I finally see the shrivelled, cracked leaves and dump water on them. In recent years, my mother has been successful with some tomato plants, and I have had success with some herbs – the power of the food incentive is also apparently genetic.
However, a glaring exception to my horticulturally challenged life is my extreme talent for cultivating weeds in our yard. There’s actually no mystery here. We don’t have the fertilizer/herbicide/pesticide truck come to our home. These chemicals run off lawns and into our ground water supply. While there may be times when use of some of these synthetic chemicals in moderation may be helpful to our human population, for our family the risks and environmental costs far outweigh the benefit of a pristine lawn. We’ve looked into organic methods of weed control, and it sounds like corn gluten works reasonably, but apparently it can attract rats, and I’d WAY rather have weeds than rats. Spraying a mixture of vodka, vinegar and dish soap on the weeds doesn’t work at all.
So we have a really horrible lawn. In other respects, we are decent neighbors (we share when we bake or when we go apple picking, we return dogs who get out of fenced-in yards, we watch out for things when neighbors are away, etc.), so I generally try not to allow myself too much guilt over the mown-weed look of our yard. But when the dandelions bloom in the spring, I feel bad. So yesterday morning, I went outside with a couple of trowels and a dandelion-removing contraption (doesn’t work so well, but switching tools every once in awhile helps break up the monotony and spreads the work to different muscle groups). And I started pulling out dandelions.
And I kept pulling dandelions. My husband helped for a few hours. My 12-year-old helped for a bit. My 15 and 17-year-olds made fun of my hat, pointed out the futility of my endeavor, and made me lunch.
And I kept pulling. Different positions. Switching hands. Sitting, standing, squatting. Filled up two yard waste bags. Like shoveling snow, there was a meditative quality to the work. There was also a bizarre feeling of triumph with each yanked root. I cleared about 25% of our front lawn and stopped due to physical exhaustion and the need to pick up groceries.
Which brings me back to today’s soreness. Apparently, pulling dandelions is an incredible workout. I hurt in most of the places that personal trainers and exercise videos target. Muscles in my abdomen, thighs (mostly back, some front, also inner and outer), shoulders, buttocks, upper arms (front and back), upper back and flank are all speaking to me today. It really was a full-body workout. And much cheaper than a gym membership.
The dandelions are already growing back this morning in the cleared areas, so I’m set with the muscle-building part of my fitness plan for the summer!