I spent the better part of holiday Monday working in the yard. This despite the fact that It’s 18 days, 18 hours, and 53 minutes until the start of the festival that has consumed me since the idea I pitched was accepted January 9. The Babas and Borshch Ukrainian Festival has consumed my waking hours and crept like a thief into what should have been a respite when I sleep.
Lest you think I took the entire weekend off, dream on. I spent most of Saturday and Sunday doing creative work: making centrepieces, large florals, and other pieces for décor. These are the things I love doing and have missed since my flower shop closed over 10 years ago. Especially challenging has been decorating a large space on a small budget; what looks oversized in my kitchen will be woefully puny in a big venue.
I consider it a personal challenge to do it up right on a modest budget. Any nincompoop can do it if they throw enough money at the problem. Savvy shopping and using what is free (like pussy willows collected this spring, and the cattails I’ve yet to cut) stretch the money so much further.
I’ve also gotten smarter about asking for and accepting help. On Tuesday evening about half a dozen of us will gather in town for a work bee. We will hand-letter names, birthdates, and birthplaces into about 1,000 passports. We wanted people to assume a Ukrainian identity for the weekend, and what better way to do it than by ?getting one’s papers in order??
But enough about that. What I saw outside on Monday was what I’d avoided for weeks. There were plants that needed deadheading, weeds that needed annihilation, and signs of overgrowth and neglect everywhere. I didn’t really have time to dig up a mostly dead lilac, but if not now, when? Or divide up the lilies that are getting tinier each year because they are overcrowded. Or rescue and transplant a scabiosa that was growing under a peony. I worked like a woman possessed. I got filthy and scratched up.
Since I was already dirty, it seemed the perfect time to wash the Honda. It was caked with filth as a result of the calcium that is spread on gravel to control dust near rural residences here. It’s fine when It’s dry, but it turns into a soupy mess that clings to vehicles after each rainfall. For about a year now we’ve had a Hotsy pressure washer that heats garden hose water into a high-pressured scouring machine. Add soap and some muscle, and you can get pretty good results.
So by sucking it up and just moving from one disagreeable job to another, I got some of the flowerbeds cleaned up and the CRV looking pretty snazzy. I didn’t make a list or a plan or contemplate my navel. I just did it. Carpe diem, baby, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.