The new house we are renting has a lawn, a side garden, and a tangle of ivy in the back yard.  My mom and a friend of hers came to help me get the side garden going, but I have been on my own to unwind the ivy tangle in the back yard.

Mind you, I cannot stand yard work or gardening of any kind.  I don’t like bending over to weed, I don’t like sweating and not being able to wipe my brow because my hands are filthy … I don’t like any of it.

But I had a little revelation the other day.

I started working in the back yard after taking my exercise walk, so I was already hot and sweaty.  I had decided to tear out a bunch of the ivy in order to create an eating space and a little pathway that leads from the back of one neighboring house to another.  I want to line the path and the eating area with bricks and to fill everything in with gravel.

It’s probably too ambitious, but it sounds like it could be a nice place for my girls to hang out with their friends, so I feel motivated to do it.

When I started to mercilessly tear out the ivy, my gardening shears made a funny noise, not at all like gardening shears should sound against the earth.  I suddenly felt like Dorothy when she’s going along the ground, looking for apples, and she suddenly comes across the feet of the Tin Man.

Turns out that my shears were tapping stone, not earth.  I pulled back some of the ivy to reveal a huge flagstone underneath.

All told, there were six flagstones, and together they made a tiny patio that had been buried under all the ivy.  The little patio was just where I had envisioned one.  I marveled at the fact that a previous renter had made a patio in the same spot I had picked and that some other renter or renters let it all grow over.

All of a sudden, I didn’t mind yard work all that much.  The next hour slipped by like watercolor, as I continued tapping my shears to find the edges of the flagstones.  I ripped up the slabs of dirt covered with ivy to and finally emerged dirty and covered with mosquito bites.

But I felt proud of my patio excavation and, after I swept the new patio, I looked proudly at the table and chairs I placed there.

For the first time in my 42 years, I had a glimmer of understanding about why people find solace in yard work.

2 Replies to “Archaeology”

  1. It’s awesome, isn’t it? Dirty, sweaty work that results in an outcome you can see. And stare at, and gaze smugly at, and sneak glances at from the kitchen window…

    “The next hour slipped by like watercolor” is true writing. Do more of it.


  2. I don’t do it often enough, but I love it when I do. Charlie was garden guy and we’d get out there and forget everything for a few hours. I love to see things come up year after year. It’s like planting your own rainbow…

    “Red and yellow and pink and green, purple and orange and blue…”

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