I've been on a mission to get a veggie garden in our front yard, but it's been obstacle after obstacle. Pretty soon it will be too hot for plants to want to sprout, and we haven't even tilled the manure in with the soil yet. It's hard to coordinate schedules; Dan is working on house projects for his folks, and it never seems like a good day to spend hours digging holes. It's making me crabby.
I decided to take my frustrations out on the little side-yard out back of our bedroom door. It's a disaster; it's been run over by weeds and Bermuda grass which has grown thigh-high. It's beyond the mower's capacity to tame at this point, so I scrounged up my gardening gloves and hand shears, popped in some ass-kickin' music, and hunkered in for the weekend.
Hacking out unwanted growth is fantastically cathartic. My aggravation eased up with every yanked root. Within an hour, I was happy in my productive solitude, unearthing various "yard treasure" (as Dan calls it): a tiny green army man, bayonet shouldered and ready for action; a green marble; a boring attachment for a drill. I also found some near-smothered vines with pretty white flowers; star jasmine, I think... they'd poked through their way through fence slats from our neighbors'. I gently disentangled them from the barbed Bermuda grass runners and re-wrapped them around the fence post.
Then I smelled nostalgia, and paused. Mint?
The Minnesota cabins where we'd spent our family summers growing up had mint running wild on the beach. The smell of fresh spearmint is forever tied to bare feet and beach walks and artesian well water. There were only two rules in summer: Don't yell "Help!" when you're swimming unless you actually need help. And no wearing bathing suits at the table.
When we bought our current house, I was happy to find our neighbors had mint growing up by the sidewalk. I break off a leaf whenever I walk by. Some of it must've migrated. I hunted in the tangle in front of me, and-- yes, there it was: a defiant little patch of mint. I freed it from the oppressive overgrowth and thought for a minute, looking again at the fencepost, with its curling vines and fragrant mint.
I'd planned on just lining the whole thing with pavers and maybe set some planters out here and there. The mint changed my mind. This funny little back side-yard needs to be a garden, a real garden, overrun with trailing vines and moss-edged flagstones. It's just enough shade back there for plants to survive the oppressive desert summers. Daisies, lavender, maybe a little fountain. Enough room for an Adirondack chair just there, in the corner.
I've been feeling a little strangled in overgrowth and choked out by runners myself these days. But if the mint can find its way in all this tangle, surely I can find my way too.