Return to Yard Work

On Monday, October 11, I returned to work at the Old Library for the first time since September 13. The reason for my absence was simple: on September 16 and again on September 30, I had cataract surgery, first on my left eye, then the right. After the surgery, I was not supposed to bend from the waist or lift heavy objects, which pretty much precluded any of the work I’d been doing. This prohibition was in effect for only two days after each surgery, but I was also having to put drops in my eyes three times a day, and my husband was trying to treat me like an invalid, and it seemed like all I wanted to do was nap, so I resigned myself to taking a break.

I won’t pretend that this enforced leisure wasn’t welcome. I’d gotten kind of burnt out on the work I was doing in the back, having concluded that camphor and smilax are just entirely ineradicable (at least with hand tools), and I rather enjoyed just lying around reading, though that in itself was a new adventure since I now have to put on reading glasses to read instead of taking off my distance glasses!

So it took a bit of heavy persuasion to psych myself up for going back, but I had an extra inducement: in September, for my birthday, my husband had given me (at my request, I hasten to note) a battery-powered string trimmer/edger. I had noticed on my daily walks that while I had been concentrating on the back of the property, the ground cover next to the sidewalks had taken advantage of my absence and inattention to stretch out to cover the walks, as shown in the Before photos below.

Front walk before

Side walk before (I think this was after the first edging pass but before raking)

I am far from becoming an expert at using the edger, but, having already butchered all the edges in our yard, I thought I’d take the device up to the library, where any change is an improvement! What a joy that proved to be! It is incredible how much easier it is to rake a walk when it has been edged first because the vines do not grab the rake. I did have to go back over some stretches several times to completely sever the vines, but it was still much more efficient than trying to use shears or rip them out by hand.

Raking was also much more efficient. Raking pine straw is always satisfying because it clumps together and is easy to pick up in a bundle. But that couldn’t hold a candle to the satisfaction of stretching out the rake to grab some pine straw and have a yard-long mat of tangled vines and pine straw come all at once! Picking it up to put in the tub was just the same: the hard part was not picking up an entire pile in one bunch. The photo below shows some of the piles of debris before they were picked up.

I had intended to make a short day of it, but of course one thing kept leading to another, and I ended up edging parts of the sidewalk along Summit and Magnolia as well. I also took time to scrape a large quantity of moss off the steps down to the curb. And I raked and swept part of the handicapped-access ramp up to the front entrance (not pictured).

Front walk after

Side walk after

Front sidewalk after

Final debris pile ready for pickup (it was collected Wednesday)

I had intended to get back to work on the stone retaining walls as well, but that will be a task for another day (tomorrow). I did experiment with spraying some of the weeds with vinegar to kill them, and I will be interested to learn whether this “helpful household hint” actually has any validity. Even if the weeds are dead, I’ll still have to pull them out, but perhaps they’ll come more easily.

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