Sigh....Mrs. ProfessorRoush informed me late last week that my "blue grass" was looking very pretty. Like many gardeners, deeply engaged into my own vision of the garden, I asked "what blue grass?" wondering if perhaps a long-deceased small clump of blue fescue (Festuca glauca) had miraculously reappeared in my peony bed. Alas, Mrs. ProfessorRoush had merely noticed and appreciated that the various lavender species were blooming in the rock edging just outside our back door.
It's a broad divide, this chasm between gardening and non-gardening spouses, seemingly as unbreachable as the differences which currently divide the red and blue state mentalities. Like many such marriages, ours is tested by a constant skirmish between the siren call of the garden and the mundane honey-do chores of changing light bulbs and tightening the screws of kitchen drawer handles. Mrs. ProfessorRoush has recently offered the preliminary terms of a truce, taking over watering of the windowsill boxes of herbs on the deck and the two containers of annuals near the front door, and I very much appreciated and accepted this initial overture, even though I sometimes notice wilting basil and begonias and am thus compelled to remind her that it is time to water.
Mrs. ProfessorRoush has further offered to help me in mowing and weeding chores, but I have so far rejected both proposals out of hand. Mowing was rejected for reasonable and practical reasons. I bag lawn clippings and use them as mulch at this time of the year. Mrs. ProfessorRoush is unable to repeatedly lift and empty the two 80lb bags, which is actually viewed as a virtue by a gardening husband who sleeps more secure in the knowledge that she would be unable to move and bury a body without help. There are some parts of my gardening persona that would welcome help with the weeding, but those fools are shouted down by the isolationist gardener in me. Like the East Germans of the early 1990's, I'm deeply afraid of the consequences of tearing down the Wall. Comments about our "pretty blue grass" provoke gruesome mental images of a newly-weeded bed, ragweed standing proudly among the uprooted and dehydrating carcasses of irises and daylilies. Oh, the carnage! Oh, the horror!
I am content, at present, simply to accept this unsolicited compliment from a non-gardening spouse and to let the slowly grinding wheels of diplomacy work through the other issues. As I age, I recognize that I may someday need help lifting the clipping bags myself, and I may also be less reticent about the occasional loss of a few defenseless yarrow. Aging, however, also carries the dangers of still more conflict. I might, for instance, expect more help from a similarly aging spouse while Mrs. ProfessorRoush might envision hiring a work force of muscular, sweaty, shirtless young men to trim the roses. If the latter is my destiny, then I simply welcome the growing gender equality of the workforce and must make sure that I remain in charge of the interview process.