Sunday, May 18, 2008


Spent the good part of this weekend hand-weeding an enormous plot of land next to the Rogers Park Metra station. Also reminded myself never, ever to volunteer for anything again.

Here's how these things go:

1. Initial meeting; lots of interest, lots of ideas. Committees form, plan is mapped out, hooray, everyone is stoked.

2. Trash-cleanup day sees over 40 people hitting the plot and cleaning up.

3. Call goes out to list that we need hands to weed the entire plot. On Saturday, 5 people show up, not including the 5-year-old who decided she wanted to be my refreshment girl, and asked every five minutes, "Wayoofusty?" hoping to bring me yet another lemonade juice box.

Today, 4. As the Volunteer Coordinator I am at both, as is another woman. I can now identify burdock, curly dock, first-year garlic mustard weed, thistle, vetch, quack grass, wild carrot, brome grass, and bindweed. I know root systems, I know propagation methods.

At the end of three hours of battling rampant daylilies and taproot weeds, we looked today at a well-cleared front section, an overgrown rear section, and a middling middle, and decided that if this was all the help we are getting, we're bringing in the rototiller and screw the weed consequences. I also suggested that this bodes ill for the prospect of people maintaining the garden, and we may want to reconsider the complexity of the design.

At one point, one of the leaders of the project, who showed up today, made excuses for no-shows: they have gardens; I couldn't come early because I had yoga (don't get me started on Yoga People), etc.

That did it.

"I know people have responsibilities," I said, "but guess what -- so do I. I have things I need to do, a life I put on hold because I committed to doing this. I don't live on this street, and I don't take the Metra, so basically I gave up a weekend to clean up someone else's back yard. And that's fine, but let's not talk as though I have nothing I have to do just because I don't constantly whine about my spouse, my baby, my yard, etc."

So now I'm sore, but I'll sleep well. Unless I have nightmares of bindweed.

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