I realized about half way in that I should have taken a photo at the outset.
What it was, was I had ordered a truckload of mulch from my local government, which shreds brush trimmings (Arlington proudly bills itself as a “Tree City,” something my pollen allergies notice every March like clockwork) and will deliver the resulting mulch to your driveway for fifty bucks a pop. You get five cubic yards; the county helpfully shows this photo on its website so you know what you are in for:
I usually have the guy drop it as far back as it will go, allowing room for my little car and a client’s. This time, the cable for my new fiberoptic connection was in the way of the truck’s lift-bed. I ended up with the whole five yards spang in the middle of the drive, leaving me with about room to park a moped, three hours till my evening clients, a 101-degree heat index, and a pitchfork.
The handcart, a piece of crap design that bonks your shins or tries to yank off your shoe no matter whether you push or pull it, had made several trips into the back shrubbery when Max appeared in a flourish of deja vu to mow his grandparents’ lawn next door. He is short, husky and cheerful, and always removes his shirt with an air of great ceremony before commencing any project of yard work. He has acquired a new tattoo centered over his upper traps, and it looks like a heart, but I refrained from asking for a closer look. People get the wrong ideas about redheaded divorcees.
“I got some cold water in my truck if you need it,” he said amiably when he was half through his mowing operation. I actually have a worksite keg, one of those big orange things, and had gone from merely drinking the water to actually pouring it on my head and down my shirt. The sun felt like a barbecue when you stand too close to it, but I was billy-be-god-damned if I was going to do anything but clear out the whole load in time for my six-o’-clock. It’s just a point of honor with me that no one has to park in the street. Idiots come around my corner as if they think they are peeling onto the straightaway at the Indy.
I began to fall into a fantasy that I was standing at the hot brink of Hell, pitching in sinners by the forkful. Max finished the lawn, resumed his T-shirt elaborately as if demonstrating the process, and booked.
I got some of it at the bottom of the garden, some of it behind the bins, and a large mound in Julio’s Repose where there is probably a drunken Salvadoran sleeping on it even now. Every so often I switched hands to keep from racking myself up on only one side and something about the reverse grip would send a cloud of mulch dust back into my face in an explosion of pungent tannic fermentation.
I shifted the whole sodding lot in just over two hours, if you don’t subtract the fifteen minutes spent inside in the air conditioning at the halfway mark. There was just enough time to record the evidence.
Then I came in, cleaned up and wrung out two six-foot cyclists.
I want a gold star. And a better yard cart.