Friday, June 10, 2005

One Good Hour

Summer has finally arrived at the beach, after a wet and cooler than normal Spring. So this morning, I was glad for one good hour to lay flagstone before it got too hot and humid to work outdoors.

Earlier in the week, without paying close attention, I got the backs of my legs and the tops of my feet badly sunburned just watering my trees and shrubs for about an hour, and with my track record with skin cancer, that's not a practice I want to continue.

And since doing yard work has become my new employment, and one that totally lights me up, I want to make sure I get maximum enjoyment but minimum risk for skin damage.

The flagstone I am laying was an after-thought once the landscapers had come and gone, leaving me with a nicely sculpted perimeter of flower beds around 3/4 of the house. The beds are mulched with pine needles, which provide a wonderful almost Christmas-sy scent, but leave a bushy, unfinished look to the beds.

And since the beds are quite generous in size and there's ample space between plantings, they cried out for a finished edge. Flagstone is my favorite natural element in a walkway or garden, so I stopped by the local rock-meister and picked out a pallet of "Green River" which suits perfectly because green in my color and the house has lots of dark green trim!

This morning, I set about early hoisting flagstones out of the wire pallet and placing them just inside the sculpted edge of the beds atop the mulch, hoping that my $250 investment in rock wouldn't give my newly landscaped gardens a cheesy "Coney Island" look (with apologies to any New Yorkers who might take offense). I hoisted and placed and hoisted and placed and spaced and placed for about an hour, getting about a third of the way done before the heat, humidity and my lack of fitness overtook me. But what I saw, I liked. So did my neighbors Beverly and Byron, who have the prettiest yard in the neighborhood, so I'm feeling pretty good about the early fruits of my labor.

I'm not sure what amazes me more: the fact that - in retirement - I am relishing my new role as manual laborer, after 30 years of being a desk jockey married to a computer keyboard - or that I seem to have a good eye or a good feel for the design elements of landscaping. Probably doesn't matter.

What matters is that these new morning rituals are like morning meditations, done joyfully in service to nature. One good hour to get centered and ready to greet the day!