Every year, when the the forsythia is in bloom and the neighborhood greens up with tender blades of new grass, I can’t wait to escape the chilly confines of our drafty old house and head outdoors.

Admittedly, I romanticize this annual occurrence, envisioning myself dreamily stepping barefoot onto the lawn, wearing a flowing sundress and a straw hat, and carrying a basket for placing freshly picked flowers. Like some kind of suburban Snow White, I picture baby bunnies at my feet, tweeting robins landing on my shoulders and cheeky squirrels scampering along bud- studded tree limbs nearby.

I prepare for my springtime sojourn by buying myself a spiffy new pair of gardening gloves, along with a surprisingly overpriced array of horticultural items such as grass seed, lime, fertilizer, loam, planting soil, annuals, perennials, vegetables, shrubs, bulbs, tomato cages, plant stakes, fence stakes, hardware cloth, weed block, ethanol-free fuel, grub killer and at least four cubic yards of mulch.

The credit card bill won’t come for a month, so I remain blissfully in denial of my reckless spending, and resolve to occupy the entire weekend gardening. Besides, after almost three decades of active duty military life, during which we lived for many years in base housing practically devoid of permissible planting spaces, I deserve to indulge my gardening fantasies.

During the first sunny weekend in mid-April, I burst from our front door, donning my new gardening gloves. Standing on our porch surveying the blank canvas of our neglected yard, I detect the aroma of soil, grass and fragrant flowering trees. I hear birds chirping and bees buzzing. I see tulips, daffodils and verdant shoots of lilies and irises waving gently in the breeze.

My mouth waters, anticipating the icy cold beer I’ll drink at the end of the day, after I’ve transformed our yard into Epcot.

I close my eyes and inhale deeply, allowing the fresh spring air to fill the depths of my overwintered lungs while envisioning the Monet-esque garden masterpiece I will soon create.

“AH-CHOO!” I emit involuntarily, knocking myself off balance and temporarily silencing the birds. “Must’ve inhaled a gnat,” I conclude, completely ignorant of the histamine reaction that will soon turn my sinuses into a veritable swamp.

I tromp off the porch and into the yard, ready to begin. But I stop, realizing there are many things to do. Cut grass, weed whack, rake beds, trim shrubs, edge sidewalks, pull weeds, erect barriers, fertilize, treat, mulch, prune, plow and plant. “Where do I start?” I wonder.

A pungent odor wafts up to my nostrils, and I glance down at my shoe. “First task — pick up doggy doo.” Thirty minutes later, I’ve filled an entire shopping bag, convinced that our yellow lab has secretly been ordering Uber Eats.

Despite nearly dislocating my shoulder starting the lawn equipment, I mow, trim, blow and bag the clippings, while wearing safety glasses so scratched, I can’t see that my lines aren’t straight. While digging weeds in the vegetable garden, my nose begins a drip that will last a month. While planting the azaleas, I develop a limp reminiscent of Quasimodo. While hacking at a root, my tennis elbow flares. While under the hedges, my knee locks up.

Exhausted and feeling pain in hip, knee, neck, elbow, back and shoulder, I collect my garden tools, checking behind me to see if I’ve left my vertebrae, meniscus or uterus in the yard somewhere. I decide I can put one small finishing touch on my garden before knocking off. I spread a bit of mulch around the mailbox, only to have a sudden breeze blow the shredded wood bits into my eye.

Two weeks later, my garden masterpiece still isn’t complete. I’ve been too busy taking allergy meds for incessant post nasal drip. I had to ask my foot doctor for a cortisone shot for my limp. When my eye swelled up, a nurse practitioner at urgent care prescribed antibiotics for an eye infection. And thanks to all the BENGAY I’ve slathered over my aching joints, I can’t smell the flowers anyway.

I’ll get back out into my garden eventually, because if you give a weed an inch, it’ll take a yard.

Read more at and in Lisa’s book, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com.” Email:

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