Our trees have begun to poke their roots out of the surface of the lawn. This surfacing of roots is the natural result of having mature trees. The roots have grown in girth, just as the trunks have. They used to hide under the lawn, now they can be seen. This creates new challenges for our back garden. Where we once had to struggle to keep lawn alive in scorching summer sun, we now have protruding roots and spots where the lawn suffers because it doesn’t get very much sun. The challenges of a young yard are different from those of an older one.
I had my eyes examined about a year ago. I went because I’d noticed changes in my vision and thought that I might need new glasses. Upon hearing that I was forty, the optometrist looked at me sadly and said “The forties are not kind to eyes.” He’s correct. More and more of my friends are acquiring bifocals and reading glasses. Howard has had to adjust his work processes for the changes in his eyesight. Focusing my eyes takes far longer than it used to. Sometimes I have to hold a book in this position, other times in that one. My eyes are not the only things that I feel changing in my body. Dozens of small things work differently than they used to do.
I’m not complaining about my yard or about aging. There are advantages to mature trees and there are advantages to being forty. I’m spending much less time afraid than I used to. Most things I encounter I have the accumulated knowledge to handle with ease. This morning I was out with 13 year old Gleek weeding the tall grass out of the spot of dirt which is supposed to be an herb and vegetable garden. “How do you do that?” she asked.
“Get the roots out with one pull.” I turned and looked at her. Sure enough, she kept pulling the tops off of the grass stalks while leaving the roots. My hands have been pulling weeds for so long that they know exactly where on a stalk I should grab, how hard to pull, and that slight twist that breaks the roots free. I don’t know when I learned it. I didn’t even realize it was a skill until I saw that Gleek didn’t have it. Being forty is like that all the time. Hundreds of things have become so easy for me that I’m hardly aware that they are complicated.
When the gardening work is done for the day, I walk in my yard. I trace the length of roots along the surface of the grass. One of the roots runs for more than six feet along the surface of the ground until it disappears under the fence into my neighbor’s yard. I can see the places where vines have grown through the fence and are breaking planks apart. I see the lattice we attached to the wall fifteen years ago, which is now a crumbling ruin around the trunks of the vines it once supported. I look at all these plants that I put into the ground. I now get the array of blooms that I pictured long ago when I planted a tiny wisteria stick and hoped that it would not die.
I don’t know what is coming for these plants. Possibly the roots will begin to trip people. The trees reach over the house now. Sometime soon we may have damage to repair because a tree begins to die, or begins to fight with the house. I can look ahead and try to imagine, just as I pictured grown trees when I dug holes for baby ones. Of course when I pictured canopy overhead, I didn’t picture roots underfoot, yet I get both. The future I’m going to get will be different than I can imagine today. I will be different. Like the trees, I am going to continue changing and maturing. I’ll need different glasses. My body will change. My capabilities will alter. Some of that I’m going to dislike, just as I get annoyed with my eyes right now. Yet I’m sure that continuing to age will continue to bring me unexpected gifts along with the annoyances.
For today, I walk my yard, tend my garden, and try to make decisions that will be good for years to come.