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Grass, Steroids, and Perseverence

Our garden au naturel

I like gardening, or I think I do anyway. I should like gardening.  We rent a house in the middle of the Dutch countryside with much of that countryside residing within our property’s border. The rental agreement doesn’t say who is responsible for maintaining said countryside, but my landlord stated early on that he would cut the grass at the front and back. At least I think that’s what he stated. He speaks in the manner of someone carrying a fistful of thumbtacks in his mouth so he might have stated something else. I caught “maaien” which means “to mow” so I figured he would cut the grass. He did this regularly for the first couple of years but has slacked off recently. He also used to take care of keeping the patio clear, but hasn’t done that for ages. Perhaps what he actually said was that he would tend the garden for a period of time before allowing it to return to its natural jungle-like state. I don’t speak thumbtack so don’t really know.

After watching the patio slowly transforming into a lush pasture for the past three years, I decided something had to be done. I don’t mind having wildlife in the garden but you know things are bad when the goats in the neighbouring plot start trying to squeeze through a two inch gap in your fence to get to the grass growing in an area where there should really only be paving stones. I decided I would rescue these paving stones from the grass which was gradually engulfing them. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and the patio doesn’t look that big from the back window. However, like so many things, appearances can be deceptive. Also I really like gardening (I think).

I don’t know what kinds of chemicals they use on the farm behind our house but I suspect they might be steroids. The reason I say this is because the grass growing on our patio isn’t normal grass. This grass has muscles. This grass goes to the gym every night and sweats and toils under heavy weights. This grass wears army boots and camouflage pants and a vest with “Under Construction” written on it. It grunts and groans under Olympic bars loaded with impossibly big plates of steel.  The grass in our garden has biceps.

So I started in one corner and, using a wicked-looking hook thing, pulled and tugged and heaved along the narrow gap between paving stones. I shifted positions, attacking from different angles. I knelt, I squatted, I sat on my backside. I tried grasping the grass between my thumb and index finger. I tried intimidating it by glaring at it and threateing it with a flamethrower.

I don’t know how long it took, but the grass eventually weakened its grip and let go. I dug and scraped and strained. I felt a blister forming through my gloves on the soft fold of skin between my thumb and pointing finger. The muscles in my arms, back and shoulders began to ache. Sweat formed on my neck and trickled down my back. But I refused to give in and, with a vanquished clump of grass in my hand, I stood triumphantly to admire my handiwork. My wife brought me a cool glass of orange juice. I drank, grateful for the cold relief for my parched throat as I surveyed the efforts of my labour. “That’s one paving stone done,” I said. “Only a hundred more to go.”

I compare most things to writing these days, mostly because most of my blogging involves writing about writing. So for those of you at the back not paying attention: pulling muscular grass out of a patio is a lot like writing a novel. And it’s almost exactly like writing the novel I’m wrestling with at the moment. I said I finished the patio in one day, but that’s not completely accurate. I finished 90% one weekend and the rest the following week. It was hard to get motivated because the patio was mostly clean and looked pretty good and we had somewhere to sit. But it wasn’t really finished and, to my surprise, once I got started the last 10% went pretty quickly. I’m currently at the 90% mark in my novel and can’t wait to see it done and dusted. I know how the story is going to end. I just have to pull out the remaining muscular grass so I can get to it. Plus there’s a strong possibility I may reward myself with a cheesecake**.

**With any luck, this cheesecake.

About P.A.Baines

P.A.Baines writes computer programs for a living but would much rather be writing Christian speculative fiction, which he does whenever he gets the opportunity. Educated in Africa, he is studying towards a degree in Creative Writing through Buckinghamshire New University in England. He enjoys asking "what if?" but is tired of how speculative fiction deals with religion in general and the God of the Bible in particular. His stories are for Christians who enjoy science fiction but who normally avoid the genre because of its tendency towards an atheistic world-view. His aim is to write entertaining and thought-provoking stories that stretch the imagination, but which keep God in His rightful place as Lord over all creation. P.A.Baines is British but currently lives in a small corner of the Netherlands with his wife and two children and various wildlife. He spends what little spare time he has keeping fit, watching films, and playing computer games with his children. He does most of his reading via audio books, which he listens to while commuting to and from work on his trusty bicycle. He speaks reasonable Dutch and is in the process of learning French.

7 comments on “Grass, Steroids, and Perseverence

  1. Hm…think you could box up some of that grass and send it to Florida? My grass has the muscular equivalent of Spongebob Squarepants.

    The weeds, of course, are another story….

    • I should warn you, there’s a lot of it. There’s a small mountain in the corner from all the stuff I pulled out of the patio. And it’s started growing back again already (groan)!!

  2. In Kansas, we have Bermuda grass (also called buffalo grass, but oddly enough, not by Kansans). It grows with roots, seeds and suckers, loves temps in the 90s, clay soil and high humidity. It is impossible to get rid of without deadly chemicals and may be why God made buffalo so big. Much like bamboo and its only natural enemy – the panda.

  3. My Dearest Paul,

    I would like to caution you on trying to hurry the ending of your book. I just finished reading the end book in the trilogy of the Hunger Games. I loved the first two books and the first 3/4 of the third book, it seemed as though the writer was bored with the story and just put down anything to get it over with. It upset me terribly. I think that the ending to the book should be as interesting as the beginning. It left me feeling cold and not wanting to read another thing from the Author for fear of a repeat. I invested two and three quarters worth of books reading time. For me that’s a lot, because I am not a fast reader. I am a thorough reader. So I thought you might be interested in a readers pov. If not, then forget I said anything and enjoy your cheesecake LOL!

    • Hi Billie,

      No fear of rushing this ending. I intend to savor every word :-). This is the part I’ve been looking forward to because I know exactly how I want it to end. The big problem is finding the time, plus I really, really want to start reading Ocilla (sorry it’s taken so long, Diane).

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