The Incredibly Angry Yardwoman

I stood at the street, or nearly there, as far as the hose would reach anyway, watering the bed of Stella d’or lilles, and purple-blooming clematis twining itself up the trellis behind the mailbox.

Damn this drought, I thought. This was going to be the year my yard looked its best, but I was thwarted from early spring on. A very late freeze in April caught both of my Japanese maples with their leaves halfway grown. They were not happy. The smaller of the two had yet to sprout its first recovery leaf and I was afraid to scratch the bark, knowing I would find the trunk and branches brown and stiff inside.

The larger one, which shaded my kitchen window from late afternoon glare and heat, making it possible to eat dinner without eyes blinded by sunlight, eventually sported a few wine-colored leaves. But, only in strange places up and down the tree, at the joints, not out of the graceful branch tips they were supposed to enhance.

It mattered little anyway, as a freak ten-minute hailstorm last week took off half the new growth and obliterated the $100 worth of flowers I had just planted in a container garden on the back patio.

Anyway, back to the task at hand: never ending summer watering. In Kentucky, weather is all or nothing—two inches of rain in ten minutes or nary a drop for fifteen days. Or longer. While I held my thumb over the end of the hose to extend the spray far enough to catch the lily clumps at the front of the bed, a strange sound came up the street behind me. As a shiny white pick-up truck passed by, with a contraption in the bed looking as strange as something out of a Dean Koontz novel, I noted the sign on the back, “Mosquito spray…stand 200 feet back.”

Geesh, I was just a BIT closer than that. The driver had kindly turned off the spray as he passed me, but the warm, gentle breeze blew the haze back my way when he switched the fogger back on. Memories of The Incredible Shrinking Man in his boat, passing through a fog-shrouded lake, unaware of impending danger, came to mind. I was excited—I could stand to shrink a size or two.

The fog didn’t make me any smaller though; I just got meaner.

At work the next day, I fought with my boss. Well, I should confess at this point that Mike and I argue every day. It is a ritual dance with us. I always give in and do whatever stupid thing he requests, eventually, but not without putting up a fight beforehand. The way I see it, it is my role as peon to make sure he earns his management salary, and I can proudly say that I take my work seriously and am quite skilled at my job.

After work, entering the house, I found that I missed my daughter, Amanda—- even her messy trail. I was mad at my sister for taking her away on a seven-day Mediterranean cruise and even angrier because I didn’t get to go. I was left behind to work all week in a hot factory. I just returned in March from a two-month work detail in England, but that wasn’t enough. It was work after all. Life just wasn’t fair.

My husband came in while I was answering email and asked what I wanted for dinner. I launched into a tirade about having to get up at 4AM, slave all day, grocery shop for the food, and then decide what to fix. He wasn’t asking me to prepare it, as he knew better, just enquiring as to what I desired.

He hastily threw a tub of Swann’s lasagna in the oven to appease the shrew.

That evening in the backyard, after my husband ran for cover and hid out in the back garage, I watched as a pair of yellow finches, normally pleasant little creatures, fought over the six posts on the feeder hanging beside the birdbath. Before I could get a decent picture of them, a blue jay chased them away, even though his beak was too large to get any seed out of the tiny holes. Finally, a crow nose-dived the jay to hog the birdbath all to himself.

Maybe the movie I should have thought about was The Birds.

The Incredibly Angry Yardwoman

linda lowry

Lexington, United States

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