One of the dirty little secrets of gardening is that you have to actually exert energy. As in, you have to put that egg, ham, and cheese bagel’wich to work doing something harder than sustaining your body while you queue up the next season of 30 rock on your Nintendo Wii (most awesome non-Kitchen related wedding present), while your husband glares at you as he folds the laundry after a long hard day at work, during which time you stayed at home figuring out how to fill the mandatory time-outs in between episodes of Being Human on Megavideo.

It’s totally not fair. As I taught four-year-olds at the horrendously overpriced and hippy-dippy alternative-learning environment at the Duke School for Children three years ago, all it takes to grow a plant is air, water, dirt, and sunshine. Nobody ever said anything about ELBOW GREASE.

Ah, elbow grease. The first time I heard the term in the context of organic and healthy cleaning, (I believe the context was, “a little Grapefruit, salt, and Elbow Grease will do the trick quite nicely!”)  I went to the grocery store cleaning aisle and wandered up and down, searching for J&J’s Elbow Grease version 2.0, in a bright white bottle with pictures of suds on it. Nothin’ doin. Discouraged, i returned home to watch Kim and Abby on British Cleaning Crazies (thats not the name of the show, i don’t remember the exact title, but its about two old chubby British ladies who clean nasty people’s houses at the risk of mold exposure), and they mentioned Elbow Grease again!! Frantic, i paused the youtube video, scanning the background for pictures of the mysterious product, wondering if perhaps Elbow Grease was just a British Thing. I cursed the FDA under my breath; damn stringent American standards, i need some of that magic powder!

Later that season, after many mentions of Elbow Grease, it dawned on me that elbow grease is not a product. No. It is a euphemism for “scrub hard with your hand, powered by your elbow.” That is correct. As my dearest dear husband would say, “Sometimes, I can’t believe you’re as smart as you’re supposed to be.”

All right so. Evan decided to plant some grass in the yard. I told him i’d help him outside, thinking i could watch my radishes grow, sans elbow grease, while Evan did manly stuff. Around 3 pm on Saturday, I ventured outside to “help,” and took a seat on the edge of my above ground garden bed, wondering if I should thin out my radish seedlings, but regretting that the farthest radish seedlings would require me to really reach my arms three feet out into the middle of the bed.

Meanwhile, Evan was tilling up the top 1/2 inch of the yard in preparation for planting grass seed. He was sweating, and his shirt was soaked, and his muscles were all big, etc, etc. The view was quite enjoyable, until…

Evan starts speaking.”Hey. You want a job? I can give you a job.”

I look around, back behind me to the left, back behind me to the right. There’s nobody there. “Sorry. Are you talking to me?”

“Yes.” Evan grunts.

“Uh, sure, what are my options?” I start to feel a little panicky. Surely he’s not going to actually ask me to, like, burn calories. I work hard to eat just enough to keep my body in perfect condition for queuing up netflix videos; any extra calorie burning and I’m toast.

“Well, you can do what I’m doing,” at this point I transition from panicky to horrified – Evan is SWEATING and it’s 50 degrees outside, “Or, you can start raking the leaves out from around the house and drag them over to the leaf pile there.”

Uh. That doesn’t sound good. “What are my other options?”

“There are no other options.”

WHAT? I should have stayed inside.

Evan stops what he’s doing and stares at me, knowing exactly what I am thinking. “Look. I think you don’t actually want to do any work. I think you just like taking pictures and writing about other people doing work.”

This is so true.  “THATS SO NOT TRUE!” To prove my point, even though Evan knows that what he has said is true, and that what I have just said is not true, I jump up from my post, grab the gloves and the rake, and proceed to rake the leaves out from around the house and pile them up in the pile. I glance back at Evan. He has turned his head and is smiling, knowing that I know that he knows that I was lying, but not caring because it got me off my bum.

Defeated, I rake the leaves up, mumble something about going inside to get water, and don’t come out again.

[and i know, this post was about yard work, not about gardening, but during the course of outside-time I did shovel some dirt off the dirt pile and into some pots. I am pretty sure I sustained massive back injuries, but DON’T WORRY. I don’t have health insurance, but I do have the ability to ignore massive injuries while they heal themselves into hunchback form]

Evan provides an example of how to rake leaves onto tarp, then pull tarp over to leaf pile on other side of yard


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