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October 9, 2004
How about gardening? I ask the doctor. Fine, he said. At last.

Next to an Anglo Catholic liturgy, an hour in the garden is about the best workout you can have outside a gym. You're up and you're down, up and down, up and down. You pull and walk, lift and carry, stretch, over and over. And the sun shines on you and a breeze cools your neck -- you notice that you've been sweating a little, the welcome sign of an aerobic heart rate.

Digging out the ivy is especially hard work. Ivy spreads along the ground by sending down shallow roots from runners just under the surface for a distance of a four or five feet, and then it anchors itself for all time by sending down a tap root that can be easily two feet long. Tough and thick, the tap root, and you have to dig it out, jumping on your shovel with both feet to penetrate soil that's been left to its own devices for a good while and has become a bit set in its ways. The moral: pull up your sins while they're new and still easy to deal with, before they sink that tap root -- it's a lot harder then, and you can't really have the sweetness you want until you take care of them. It takes three hours just to do the area in front of the forsythias, but I am almost there.

The soil looks deceptively rich and nice, but it is heavy Jersey clay -- it needs leaves and lots of compost, maybe even some sand, so that it becomes lighter and more nourishing for what I want to put there: daffodils, tulips and lavender for spring and then summer, and then some nice red sedum for the fall. And maybe a few surprises.

And it needs worms, of course, to keep things moving underground. The worms will come along with the compost. Q left me a garbage can full of it, more compost than I can lift. There are sure to be worms in there.

Curves, I suppose, sometime this morning, just to say hello -- although I am well exercised from my struggles with the ivy, and expect to be out there again this afternoon to begin improving the soil I have freed. And sinking the first daffodil and tulip bulbs into it. The new bed is right along the sidewalk -- people will walk past it all winter, not knowing what bides its time beneath the surface of the newly cleared ground. And then, one morning, a finger of green. And, soon, the flowers.
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