By John R. Greenwood
There's something about home ownership that amplifies that pioneerish craving to clear the land and open it up. In my little corner of the world I am fortunate to have some 100 ring maples within my domain. I am also blessed with a busy county road, a short-cut town road and the tire-screeching intersection that brings them together. 100mph motorcycles find their way by every Saturday about midnight. But, it's the guy towing the loosely constructed metal lawn-care trailer who inevitably runs just off the edge of the pavement every night around midnight that pops me out of bed like a toaster pastry. Ahh, Urban America speaks at all hours. Now back to that land clearing part. I am once again the proud owner of a pickup truck, so I hold a better chance of keeping up with my yard work. With all those maples, tree branches sprout like dandelions and leaves never do what they say. This creates what some call work. I call it dirt-under-the-nails-heaven. The smell of fermenting grass piles mixed with rotting tree excrement is as sweet as a drive past TGIF's on steak night. The joy of having a garage of your own and filling it with yard tools of all shapes, sizes and price tags is why we close our eyes and sign 30 year mortgages we know we will have trouble paying by month #2. I love heaping up the back of a truck with forest remnants. I work my compost pile with little commitment, sometimes pretending it's growing from the bottom up, slowly, like the Rockies. Time is the biggest enemy of the homeowner. When I was younger and had the stamina of Rocky Balboa I could begin my yard marathons at 7am and be knocking off my boots to come in at 8pm. These days I shoot for 7am to 8am. There's a shortfall of ability not want.
This post began as a tribute to working in the far corners of a 1/4 acre slice of the American Dream. Although I got a little off track I think most reading this will agree that no matter how many things we think we need in the house to make us happy, it's the desire to own the dirt under it, and trees around it that really drives us to sign our name in the first place. I will probably be 103 before my slice is paid off but