Outside, inside

I’m not even sure how I got started on this project. It seems so arbitrary. The mind, taking in this Jordan curve of bricks in the new backyard, divides the space: “Outside. Inside.” And then, “Something belongs inside. A garden, obviously.”

Look around. There’s no one else.

I started on my hands and knees, spending two unseasonably warm winter afternoons pulling by hand, plant by plant, bent over close enough to smell the soil with each breath. I cleared about 6 square feet in eight hours. I was going nowhere.

The cold returned and then the rain and then February became March became April and the weeds popped everywhere.

So I grabbed a shovel one day and started slicing off the top inch or two of soil and weedy roots, making my way slowly from one end to the other.

I have no idea if this is how it’s done, scooping a thin layer of root icing off the top of the soil cake. I slice and lift and drop and slice and lift and drop and drag and dump and slice some more, wondering how much I’m leaving behind. I still don’t know if it’s productive or futile, but it’s progress I can see. I’ve been nibbling at it for weeks.

Now the end is in sight. Weeds there. Bare earth here. Before. After. Then. Now. I’ve peeled back and stripped away almost all of the grasses and clover, watching for that four-leaf clover, which would be my first.

I don’t understand why I’m doing any of it. I trust purpose will emerge, but it’s not important. I’m in the sunshine, in the air, outside, digging inside this bounded oval. That’s enough.


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