My neighbor has a yard that is to die for. Everything is just perfect and neat, always trimmed and never a stray limb from a tree to be found. Maintaining his of lush lawn, heavenly perfumed flowers, and graceful shrubbery requires diligence, time and a great deal of physical effort. And it almost killed him, literally. He suffered a heart attack while uprooting a small juniper the other day.
I didn’t know what happened to him until this afternoon when I noticed it was his wife out dead-heading the flowers and pruning a few branches here and there. Normally her husband is out and about doing these tasks while humming some piece of classical music. Naturally I asked after him and she told me he had suffered a massive heart attack while tending to the dying juniper.
Because I wasn’t home I didn’t hear the ambulance come to scoop him up and whisk him away to the hospital. Because I was out the following day I didn’t get a chance for our friendly chats about how the welfare of my plants.
The cardiologist told her that whatever he was doing in the way of yard work had to stop. Gardening should be calming and soothing and yes even healing. The need for perfection and order was creating too much stress, add to the mix heavy manual labor in an older person and, according to the cardiologist, you have all the ingredients for the perfect storm of a health crisis.
My yard is not one to die for. The grass is cut and edged, he flowers are cared for, but not dead-headed. I like the way the branches from my small tree are randomly poking about here and there. In other words I will never win a medal for a perfect oasis of a yard, but I also will get to enjoy my yard without working gardening myself into an early grave. Nature provides her own version of perfection and we have a small agreement about this. Nature agrees to help me with the watering (I’ve been known to forget this stuff) with I keep the lawn cut and let her do her own brand of artistic expression.