Monday, May 24, 2010

Is beauty bark worse than its bite?

I am not by nature a person who enjoys yard work, the operative part of the phrase being "work."

Mowing lawn was a chore when I was a kid. It was something I hated because it entailed rolling out the old gas lawn mower in the oppressive Boise heat, checking it for gas (which in inevitably did not have), dashing down into my grandmother's root cellar where my father stored the gas can (avoiding the disgusting bugs and beetles the size of my fist that lurked there), gassing up the ancient thing and then spending 30 minutes trying to get it started.

Starting involved pulling a cord to start it because, although the internal combustion engine had been invented by this time, cheap lawn mowers did not come with electronic ignitions. In between pulling the starter cord, you had to mess with the choke. To this day I do not know or care what the choke is or was. I just knew that my father had impressed upon me the importance of using it. It was right up there with swearing a gray streak at the lawn mower during the start-up and mowing process. If messing with the choke did not make the lawn mower turn over, I then had to pull the spark plug and clean carbon off from the gap.

When the lawn mower finally turned over, coughing like a TB patient, I'd push it in the blazing sun as it belched out blue smoke. The worst part was when you'd hit a pile of dog crap buried in the tall grass and you'd be assaulted with this putrid smell of warm dog shit, grass and gasoline.

Suffice it to say, I developed a phobia of mowing the lawn that nips at the back of my mind every time my grass reaches the point of no return and requires taming. Fortunately, I now live in the Pacific Northwest and rarely have to mow the lawn in tripe digit temperatures. And I don't have a dog, so I'm generally spared the brown land minds in the mowing process. And now I have an electric lawn mower, so my days of pull starts, chokes and spark plugs are a relic of the past. The worst I have to contend with is figuring out a mowing pattern that causes the least amount of maneuvering to avoid mowing over the cord and sending many volts of electricity flowing through my private parts.

After this long tirade about mowing the lawn, I have to confess that I didn't even have to mow it this weekend. The other advantage to living in the Pacific Northwest is that it rains most of the time. So my lawn got called due to rain. But I did have to engage in the semi-annual spreading of the beauty bark. Beauty bark was not a phenomenon I encountered growing up. The only thing we spread on flower beds when I was a kid was steer manure.

It wasn't until we moved into our current house with its nicely landscaped front yard that I was faced with yet another endless regime in the yard work game. I'm sure beauty bark was invented by a tree cutting service that had piles of bark and tree chips laying around and some industrious tree cutter decided that rather than pay to haul the chips to the dump they could convince some poor schmuck homeowner that there yard would look better if the plant beds were covered with bark.

And I'll admit that plant beds do look better with a nice rust colored blanket of bark covering up the moss and weeds. But the bitch of it all is that you have to lug bag after bag of this crap around your yard and try to spread it thin enough to cover everything without spreading it so thin that a good breeze will leave patches of the old bark shining through.

And you never buy enough beauty bark. It is an undisputed law of lawn care nature.

Since I only spread beauty bark once a year at most, I end up waking up muscles I had forgotten I had when I sling the bags macho like over my shoulders. Which is why I am writing this mundane post today. My muscles are screaming at me that I should have remembered I am not macho. I also have these microscopic beauty bark slivers that managed to work their way around leather work gloves to embed themselves into my skin.

I'd pay somebody to do this crap if I wasn't so cheap. Oh well, that's about all anyone should write about beauty bark. At least until next year.

At least it is better than me writing about the final episode of Lost last night (and about as interesting).

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