Thursday, May 29, 2014

Bad planning. Big mistake. Part 1

One of the biggest complaints about social media such as Facebook and, I would argue, about blogs too, is that the writer shows off his or her best side, best food, best joke, best photo, best everything. It's as if everyone except YOU and ME are having a perfect life.

But life isn't perfect, and while I don't expect you've been looking forward to a healthy infusion of schadenfreude (the pleasure derived from seeing others in suffering or trouble), I'd like to share with you a big mistake, the steps leading up to it, and my current dilemma about what to do about it.

With our front yard firmly established, last autumn Jay and I started to do some long-term planning for our back yard. Among the elements to include were shaded entertaining space, a sunny annual vegetable garden, a shed, compost piles, etc. The north side of our back yard gets a fair amount of sun and is shaded by our neighbor's red maple in the late afternoon (man, it's DARK under one of those!). So we decide there would be enough sun and I started to prepare the soil. I sheet-mulched it, covered it with a combo of wood chips and coffee grounds and let it compost over the winter.

Then late last summer we had an overgrown apple tree and a few other scraggly trees on the fence line removed, which opened up a lot of sky. Early this spring we revisited the plan and noticed a lot of sun in the back yard. So we abandoned the side of the yard spot and went to work on the back. We tilled the soil, dug paths and purchased and painted a lot of wood.

That was before all the trees were leafed out. Add to the upcoming disaster our bad judgement of where the summer sun would travel,  just how big our neighbor's red maple is, and how much of our back yard it shaded.

Weeks went by between our first work weekend and when we next got out to build the beds. We worked a few mornings on the project. We built the beds with painstaking attention to level, and had two yards - CUBIC YARDS I TELL YOU - of gravel delivered for the paths. Then all the trees got their shiny new summer leaves. One afternoon we were working on the garden when, to my horror, I saw a shadow creep up to and over the beds around three in the afternoon.

I looked up at that maple, looked down at the shadow. Between this early afternoon shadow (which I hadn't anticipated so early) and a shadow from a tree just on the other side of our back yard fence (which I had anticipated), these sun-loving annuals weren't going to get much more than four hours of full light - not enough to grow a tomato, pepper or an eggplant.

I sat down, stunned. I cursed that tree. I cursed my bad planning. I cursed changing my mind from using the side yard to the back of the yard. I cursed wasted time and effort. My only consolation was that we hadn't started to move that gravel, but we still had it, sitting in our driveway. I asked myself, "What the hell are we going to do with two yards of gravel?"

I was overwhelmed and began to weep. Jay consoled me, joking that we could take the tree down. I couldn't think...

So, more to come on this one. But before I wrap up, a poultry phrase that seems apropos for this post.

To brood: to be absorbed by negative circumstances.

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