On Friday, I drove up to the Citizen’s Gazebo on Route 196 in Lisbon Falls. I still put the buntings on, even though the town now maintains the majority of the town’s showcase gardens. According to the instructions on the bunting box Faye Brown gave me long ago, they go on at Memorial Day and stay up until “AFTER MOXIE.”
Parks & Recreation Department employee Wesley Walton was putting some final touches on the freshly mulched gardens and we chatted for a few minutes before he zipped off to finish beautifying our town. I asked him what he was doing over the long weekend. He’s young, maybe 25? I was surprised when he told me he would be taking care of a family gravestone in a neighboring town. Walton said “he died in the Civil War, the Battle of the Wilderness.”
I was impressed with this young man’s concern for old things.
The Battle of the Wilderness was a three day battle fought near Spotsylvania, Virginia from May 5 to May 7, 1864. According to Wikipedia the skirmish was considered tactically inconclusive. The battle area was in “dense wooded undergrowth” according to the American Battlefield Trust’s website. Union Commander Ulysses S. Grant refused to retreat following the battle and told Secretary of War Edwin Stanton “I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer.
My yard maintenance is minimal in comparison to the privation and suffering of Civil War soldiers. But I thought of their struggle as I did work in the undergrowth behind my tool barn last night. It’s a constant battle keeping the ugly weeds and vine growth down. I can mow some of it, but there are still small stumps that would dull the mower blade and I hack at them with my father’s axe.
I could just let the undergrowth take over, but I love the lilac bushes that grow in the same space. So I’ve resolved to fight it out with my mower and my axe. I’ll do that all summer if that’s what it takes, God willing.
As I worked into the darkness, I thought about stories I wanted to write. I thought about my gardens, and I thought through stories about gardens. The two things are similar in that they are complex and multi-layered. Gardens are full of roots and weeds. You can’t just throw a small seedling or seed in the ground and expect it to suddenly sprout whole and complete from the ground. It’s not Amazon, you know?
There is a current tendency to think there is a “lifestyle hack” for everything. What? You’re not acquainted with “lifestyle hacks?” Wikipedia defines them as “any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life.”
In the garden, a “hack” might be to dump Monsanto’s Roundup on undesirable weeds. If you put “Roundup” in a search engine, the first page will include information about cancer caused by the herbicide. I’m sure Roundup seemed like a good idea at the time. Now, I’m not so sure. Maybe the mower and the axe are better.
You can apply the “hack” metaphor to just about anything. Feel free to do your own application. Just remember the Roundup and some hacks are worse than others.
Here are some tulips from my “surprise garden” on the corner of Summer and Maple Streets here in town. I’m still a member in good standing of the Green Thumb Gang and that’s been my spot since 2001. It’s doing well and I’m thankful Wesley Walton and the Parks & Recreation crew mulch it for me.
Thumbs up for Lisbon!