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A Backyard Makeover

It’s the red ants you really have to watch out for. They bite. I know this, because I’ve been bitten before. But it always surprises me how much it hurts. It is Victoria Day. It is also my sixth hour of digging. I am sweating, covered in dirt and one tenacious red ant has made it all the way up the back of my leg, to literally bite me in the ass. Triggering a first in a long series of second-guesses of my proclamation to my wife (and my kids, my neighbours, and now you, dear Tonic readers) that this is the summer I will finally deal with my disaster of a backyard.

For the past ten years I had fought the good battle of attrition to weeds (and ants). In the end it got to the point where all I could do was simply mow over everything to create the illusion of horticultural competency and neighbourly responsibility. But it was sheer optics, because our backyard was effectively rendered unusable. And reseeding or resodding weren’t viable options. I grew sick of mowing, weeding, watering and spraying, or in any way supporting grass any longer. I could pretend that my decision was predicated on a sense of ecology, but really, like much of what I do, it was ego driven.

A few years ago (after we renovated our house) I tore all the grass out of our front yard and replaced it with a neo-zen garden (lots of river rock, pea gravel, black mulch and low-lying shrubs and plants). The landscaping in front is attractive, unique and blessedly low maintenance. So, I boasted, tackling the backyard was going to be no problem at all; just another creative endeavour.

I got started in early May, with the grass/weed removal -earnestly hoping that the work would be done by June. My first dose of reality came early. The guy at the tool rental place told me that most people could cut through their yard in an hour with a motorized tiller. I was well into my fourth hour of arm-shaking, back-breaking sodbusting when it dawned on me, that my “no problem, I’ve got this” job was actually going to be my full-time, “perhaps I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, but now can’t admit” summer project. Sigh. I’ve now revised my schedule, and given myself to the end of June to “get er done” so that I can make deadline to tell the whole story of the transformation with photos, (but sans ant-bitten ass photos), in the summer Issue of Tonic.

Until then enjoy OmT.O. (our fantastic, free, full day yoga festival at the Distillery District on June 21st) and the June issue of Tonic, which is fabulously yoga-centric. Fitness expert Rod Macdonald knows that yoga is the original bodyweight training program (p. 33), and Jelayna Da Silva explains why yoga is for everyone (p. 12). And if you want to know why you should absolutely come out to OmT.O. this year, read about our great roster of yogis, free giveaways, food and drink to sample and buy (including sake-infused cocktails) at p. 24. As always, if you want to discuss this note or anything else in Tonic, please feel free to contact me.