During the summer in Fresno, the sky glares down at the dusty ground and seems to say “I dare you to grow, or live, or even breathe!” And most of the plants, and the people, by long habit, simply put on sunglasses and, (in the case of people) stick to the air conditioning, or, (in the case of plants) wait for the end of summer in a near-death, drought tolerant sort of way.
But now it’s November. The air is cool. Rain has cleared the air. The summer has burned itself out, the plants have said “Ha!” We have very patient plants, here. Huge eucalyptus trees, rosemary, sego palms, things that wait. And now they are drinking in the rain and breathing and feeling pretty good.
It’s the time of year when people come out of the air conditioning and enjoy the company of the plants again, and the sky and the air.
So my creative need to arrange the things around me has spread to the front yard. After three Saturdays, the shovel and I have improved the front yard just a little bit, I think. I have endured the comments of passersby. As I was digging up dead bermuda grass on the first Saturday, an old man walked by and said, “You like your yard dry, huh?” I smiled politely, and said silently “No, I hate my yard dry. What kind of silly comment was that!” On the second Saturday as I was digging up more dead bermuda grass, a young couple walked by and the man said, “Nothing like good old fashioned home improvement!” I smiled politely, and supposed he said that because I was using a shovel, and not some noisy power tool that would have chewed up the sod a lot faster. But I was happiest, later that evening, when I saw an old man pushing an old woman in a wheel chair, and they stopped to look at the flowers I had planted.
There is always something that can be made better around us. In my case, almost an endless amount of things. But that’s okay. It’s the doing of it that is important. The doing. Not the finishing. And not the relative quality, the question of whether someone else might have done it better. Just the doing.