Oh, yes, I want to use ALL the metaphors! 

the abandonment
the recovery 
the initial huge effort
the long process
the steps in the process, uncountable
the small successes
the bugs and the rabbits
the water and the sun
the volunteers
the daily and weekly rhythms and demands and joys
the never-vanquished weeds and spearmint roots
what we live with (and what it adds) and what we must remove
the rewards (richly fragrant heirloom tomatoes in August, next to the richly fragrant basil)
the changes in the garden
the changes in the gardener

I'll stick with the initial effort, for now.

These two garden beds in St. Louis have clearly been abandoned for at least two seasons. A daughter and soon-to-be daughter-in-law are taking them on...well, the daughter has a vision and no experience except long-ago hot, fruitless weeding duty. The daughter-in-law watches and cheers.

The right side is all mint and lemon balm, plus what the British landlord calls goose grass (cleavers, Velcro weed, sticky ball weed....) and thistles.

This took a good chunk of a day. Mine, not the daughter's.

That took most of another day. A sunny, quiet, robin-friended other day. 
A couple days of effort and abundant peace.
It doesn't show the side jobs of goose grass removal all around the beds and through the flowers behind them. Or the trimming of Russian sage and roses and and California blackberry, or the discovery of a bulgaricum flower from the Accursed Mountains.

I know that under that beautiful soil is a whole layer, still, of spearmint and lemon balm roots. They will show their faces again very soon. And that's okay.

Already the daughter thinks she might love gardening.

And in another year or two, it will be beautiful and fruitful and clean all the way down to the base layers and their worms. In the meantime we may possibly enjoy some rhubarb. And chives.


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