The Frugal Gardener
Sometimes you see the strangest things.
I was returning from my usual morning walk when I happened on two unusual sights. The first I wouldn’t have seen at all except my mind had gone off in some strange direction and my feet followed right along and down the wrong street.
Anyway, I noticed a man in a yard on the opposite side of the street. He was wearing shorts and a baseball cap to protect his head from the sun. He was on his knees digging around the base of a tree with a trowel. I wouldn’t have taken much notice except for the large bag on the ground next to him. It was a dog food bag, the brand–Beneful–is the same one I buy for my dog who looks very similar to the one on the bag. This seemed a bit odd because there was no dog in sight. Besides, who feeds his dog in the middle of the front yard? I had gone about another half block when I realized I was on the wrong street. (Do they make GPS units for pedestrians? If so, I probably should buy one.) Muttering to myself some disparaging remark about my mental acuity I turned around and retraced my steps past the Dog Food Gardener. I began to consider an explanation for this rather odd little scene.
Perhaps he grabbed the wrong bag, thinking it was plant food. No. Even from across the street I could make out the picture of the dog on the bag; no mistaking him for a begonia. I get the connection between the words Beneful and beneficial, but I’ve always just fed the stuff to my dog. Maybe this man thinks if it’s good enough for dogs, it’s good enough for plants, too. (Maybe the tree was a dogwood.) So he might simply be practical. Hey, we’re all trying to save money these days. Or maybe he’s planting the stuff, trying to grow his own dog food—another money-saving idea. I wonder how that would work. Do those little kernels grow into Beneful bushes? With Beneful berries? Are they gathered into Beneful berry buckets or boxes bound for the Beneful plant to be baked and bagged for us to buy for Bowser? Boy, it boggles the brain! (Don’t knock it. Do you think it’s easy coming up with this stuff?)
Of course, in the end I decided it was none of these reasons, only that the Dog Food Gardener had grabbed the empty dog food bag to catch the weeds and debris he dug up from under that tree. In fact, he was being practical: Think of the money he saved on trash bags.
By now I was actually on my own street and approaching my home when I saw a woman mowing her lawn. Not unusual, right? What was unusual was how she was dressed. She had on flowing black pants and a matching black, long-sleeve, pull-over top. Be advised, wearing black and long sleeves in the sweltering weather of a Texas summer is not particularly advisable. But there she was, toiling away on this sultry June morning, pushing that mower up and down the slope of her small front yard. Covering her hair was a dressy gold print scarf tied in back. Most unusual of all, however, were her shoes. She was wearing gold-colored dress shoes with narrow, pointed heels about two inches high! She looked like she had just come from a cocktail party. (Surely no one would be going to one at that hour, and especially not after mowing the lawn. One whiff and even the hors d’oeuvres would shrivel.) So this woman was not wearing typical yard work attire. But heels??!! Why on earth would you wear those?
Suddenly I had the answer: She was aerating the soil! Accomplishing two jobs at once. (Unlike myself, who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time—much less on the right street!) Here was more practical thinking in action. Why invest in expensive yard tools when a perfectly good alternative is right there in the closet? This woman was brilliant! A tad overdressed, perhaps, but then the elements of one’s ensemble really should complement each other. What’s more, she was being very considerate, using an electric mower which is much less annoying to one’s neighbors.
The whole experience of that morning’s walk left me with a profound respect for my resourceful neighbors, including the one I saw a few weeks earlier, hose in hand, watering his flower beds while sitting in a lawn chair. Now that’s the way to do yard work!
©2011 The Wit’s End Scribbler