Couple of weekends back, I started my garden. Tweren't easy, I tell you. If there'd been a humpbacked bison or two nearby, chewing their big hairy cuds while they watched me break the ground, it would have been exactly like when those old pioneer farmers first put the plow to the prairie. I used a Home Depot tiller instead of an ox, sure. But still, it was like tilling a Pergo floor. (Listen, I'm only guessing about that. So if your Pergo floor looks like it's had a herd of muddy antelopes tromp across it, I didn't do it.)
I've gardened for years, but until this spring, I was doing it where my dad had his garden for decades before me. It was soft dirt, dad's dirt. Dirt that was accustomed to being stirred up and slurped around once or twice a year. Dirt with no expectations that it was going to stay put for long.
I moved, though, and decided to shift my gardening activities to where I now live, which meant fluffing up dirt that had stayed put for at least 50 years. Mighty stubborn dirt. Got me to thinking about how similar to dirt we humans are. Under the weight of time, see, we compact ourselves into a comfy, settled-in lump, and it's tough to get a new crop of ideas out of us. Sound familiar, Claude? Sound like anyone you know, Clay?
Okay, that's the way the dirt at my new place is. Stubborn, old dirt. Old, settled-in, hard dirt. Maybe not as hard as a Pergo floor, but it rattled my teeth but good.
But before I could even get to tilling my hard dirt, I spent days pulling up some juniper bush ... AAAIYEEE! DAMN IT ALL! There's that WORD again! That despicable, disgusting word! Why, oh why didn't I say "shrubs?" Or I could have said "dumb, woody, ugly growths." Or, "plants!" I COULD HAVE JUST SAID "PLANTS!"
Oops. Went a little eruptive there, I suppose. And I apologize for my tantrum. I shouldn't get so upset. If I'm not careful, I could have a stroke and just lay here, on the bottom of this very page, hoping a doctor or an EMT thumbs through the paper and finds me before it's too late.
The thing is, though ... and you may have noticed this ... for too long, every other column coming from this writer's Mac has had to do with that ... that ... "dumb, woody, ugly growth" (DWUG) the Supreme Court planted in the people's White House. And I'm sick of it. That's the truth. I'm sick to death of trying to come up with fresh ways to describe B ... er ... "dwug-boy!" I'm sick of writing about him and what makes me sickest of all is thinking about him!
But I can't stop. Maybe it's obsessive behavior, I don't know. I'm a gardener ... not Doctor Phil. Republicans would call it blind, irrational hatred. The Democrats consider it justified moral outrage. Personally, I think of it more like finding a walnut-sized lump on one's testicle and then trying to concentrate on other things. It was bad enough when there was just that presidential race to overly focus on. But then this Richard Clarke comes out and proves—beyond all shadow of a doubt if you're smart enough to believe him—that Bu ... er, the walnut-brained lump on the nation's testicle ... is even more incompetent than even I thought he was! And then, the administration's hatchet squad starts whomping on Clarke like rabid hockey players, proving they are even more vicious than even I thought they were! So I suddenly find myself more obsessed than ever. How can this be?! ... I thinks. Not only had I correctly believed these people to be abominable leaders and even worse human beings (I says to myself), BUT I'VE BEEN UNDERESTIMATING THEM!
So, I decided ol' Bill needed a little vacation. Not from work. Not from this column. But from the "B" word. I need some distance between me and what goes off in my brain whenever I hear someone call that ... that ... pathetic screw-up ... our "President."
Call it self-administered censorship, if you will. Just as the FCC has declared a certain four-letter word off-limits on the nation's airwaves, I vowed to purge my paragraphs of any reference to that ... that ... obscenity—whom I find so offensive it's almost impossible for me to believe they'll allow his name to be said on the radio, but won't let Howard Sterns use the modifier "f***" in front of it.
Anyway, for the foreseeable future—or until I calm down and file Richard Clarke's testimony away with all the other reasons we desperately need a new president—expect my opinions to be about things other than him ... "he whose name must not be uttered ... unless you like to see me puke!"
For instance, I'll probably do several dozen columns about my teenage daughter's day-to-day antics. Never a dull moment there, as you can imagine. (And if there are dull moments, I'll leave them out.)
Also, I have on the drawing boards a series of cooking columns focusing on why we shouldn't worry too much about the epidemic of obesity that plagues modern Americans. After all, Mother Nature can always be relied on to come up with her own methods of population control, and who are we to question Mother Nature? (So get your pasta pots ready, eager readers. And next time you're at the grocery store, pick up a drum of virgin high-fructose corn syrup.)
Oh, and I need to do a celebration column on how it's irrelevant where the Ten Commandments rock ended up, just as long as the "Keep the Kommandments Koalition" weenies lost. Hah Hah!
And of course, gardening columns. If I were to write about nothing but all the tilling, fertilizing, seed sowing, hitting Zamzows every Saturday morning for pony packs of cabbage and peppers, setting up cages for our little tomato friends, corn, cantaloupe, cauliflower, shooing off cats who think my strawberry bed is a master bathroom, beets, brussels sprouts, basil, weeding, watering, bug snuffing, melon thumping, bean snapping, pea de-podding, ear husking, carrot topping and spud spading I have ahead of me, I'm sure I could go all the way to November without once having to put his name to paper. (Needless to say, I'll have to stick to pole beans and forget about growing the ... uh ... other kind.)
Not that I intend to go all the way through the election season without turning my hoe back to the campaign. Oh dear, no! This political soil needs to be turned over in the worst way. These weeds need to be yanked up by their lying, job-losing, corporate-tapping, Iraq-invading roots. Such sterile dirt must not be allowed to settle in any further. Really, what kind of gardener would I be if I just sat back and watched my land go to seed?