Caution: deep-digging wife in flip-flops ahead

Southern Hospitality

Ever since I was a young adult, I’ve planted flowerbeds for beauty and cutting. I have always wanted a cutting garden next to my front door, filled with purple, red, yellow and magenta flowers and at least one fresh herb for fragrance. This would be a special area to enjoy at the end of the day. Finally, I got around to designing my dream garden. The first step was going shopping for some flowers. The next would be digging a bed.

I came home loaded down with a dozen perennials and proceeded to get the shovel out of the garage. Russell watched me with anxiety. I was able to get him out there in the first place because I told him I wanted an opinion. This was true — I wanted an opinion of how much he was willing to help me with this major gardening maneuver, but hey, I’m a little more subtle than that.

No wife in her right mind ever just blurts out, “Hey, honey, can you help me?” because that’s a sure ticket to watch your man run the other way, making up some silly excuse, like: “Oops, I just remembered I got a phone call from the repair shop saying the ball bearings I ordered for my lawn mower have come in. In fact, they arrived on an overnight flight from Yugoslavia, and another customer wanted them, and not only that, they are no longer being made, so I better get on down there before they close in five minutes. Bye!”

My dear husband did eventually agree to give me his opinion on where to plant this and that, did the colors complement each other, and did he think it was a sunny enough spot? (As if he would know any of that.) Then I began explaining the real reason I had drug him outside and away from the Golf Channel. Russell folded his arms across his chest. He knew what was coming. When I hinted that I’d like some help digging up the centipede grass, he immediately set the record straight (with an evil crooked smile), saying that he wasn’t lifting a finger. “Fine,” I said with my jaw set. Who was asking him to?

Anyway, I changed into flip-flops and proceeded to tackle the job on my own. You know what? It was impossible for me to remove that tangled patch of thick, green, healthy centipede with roots as strong as fishing line. For some reason, I could only get a real handle on the job when I dug at a 90-degree angle, making holes that were about 18 inches deep. The funny thing was, the deeper I dug, the more powerful I felt. Sure, it left a small gully in my yard, but no problem: I planned to go out the next day and buy around $275 worth of potting soil to fill in the holes.
Russell cringed when he saw I meant business. “Do you have to dig that far down?” he whined. He can’t stand it when I dig up good centipede. It’s right up there with my selling his golf clubs at a garage sale when he isn’t watching.

Finally he succumbed. “Here, let me help you.” “Oh no, you’re not lifting a finger, remember?” I snapped. Still he stood there, “guarding” the spread of greenery that he was losing mound by mound. Well. After a solid hour of digging up only five square feet by myself, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I also couldn’t stand up, my back hurt so much.

Out of pity (dare I think love?) Russell accepted the shovel and the job was finished in no time flat. As he drove off to get his ball bearings, I hollered, “Look at it this way. One positive thing came out of this, honey. Now you’ll have less grass to mow!”

– Ann Ipock
Author of Life is Short, But It’s Wide; Life is Short, So Read This Fast; and Life is Short, I wish I Was Taller