It has been five weeks into the lockdown for the state of Virginia. Real estate workers are considered essential in my state, but I have not worked since they issued the lockdown order. Save for some work on my website, www.reddressrealty.com, and a few postings on my Instagram @reddressrealty (p.s., I need 5 more followers to be able to see and measure my stats, help a sister out.)
I am not ashamed to say that I suffer from anxiety, sometimes severe. I also have some risk factors that have me extremely fearful of this virus. Because of this, I have not been able to work as I normally would. I am happy to wait this out. I am grateful beyond measure to have a roof over my head and the coming assistance from PUA. I have left the house exactly seven times in these five weeks. At times it has been nerve-racking, other times I am calm, but eager to get home and vigoursly wash my hands. And now I have this extra time to maintain my home. So other than some administrative work for my business, I have spent most of the lockdown doing landscaping work in my yard with my boyfriend. He is the only other human I have contact with, and he with me.
I live in a suburb of Washington, D.C.. West Springfield is a little burg built in the 60s just outside the beltway. My neighborhood was sold as a "bedroom community" and served mostly government workers, military members and other professionals. The yards average about .25 acres and are mostly wooded, save for those who have installed swimming pools. When I moved here, I had over 40 trees in my backyard. Over the years (22 this summer) I have had a handful of dead trees removed. One removed itself after a storm, and after sitting there for a couple of days, I came home to discover that someone had chopped it up for me and left it in a pile. I found out it was my neighbor across the street doing me a favor.
This Spring, however, more than 20 trees have gone under the saw. Most of them were young, no more than 4-5 inches in diameter. With time on our hands, my boyfriend thought it would be a good idea to start cleaning up the yard. He started by raking the leaves on the ground. I'm talking about at least 6 years worth of leaves. This made for a golden gown (ok, dark brown) of ground cover that was about 6 inches high. As we raked, mulched and transported the yardwaste to the wide easement behind my house, I started to realize that my indifference had allowed more trees to sprout where they had not been planted. And they did so with impunity. I never thought much of it before I began raking years worth of neglect off the ground. Soon I was eyeing the tiny towers of foliage as the enemy. Ok, not really. But there are already so many mature trees in my yard that these little ones just had no place to go. So down they came. Over two weekends, I cut down 18 trees with nothing but a pruning saw. Dogwood, oak, holly, longleaf pine. No one was safe. Not even the rhodendren. (OK, I just cut that one back, I like the rhodendren.) I learned that I had a good eye for how tall something is, and we learned to use a rope to direct some of the larger trees where to fall. We've gotten quite good at it.
I'm not someone who is in great shape. I suffer from allergies, high blood pressure and I like food and drink. I also have back pain. But that hasn't stopped me. I ran a 10 miler and a half-marathon last year, so one thing I don't lack is stamina. There is something about working together as a team that makes me more motivated. And it is so satisfying. Our joint goal is to create not only a nice space for us to enjoy, but a wonderful play area for my 5 and 7 year old neices when they can finally come over to play again. We dream of creating a magical faerie land, a butterfly garden, and a pentagram-shaped fire pit. I'd love for them to pitch a tent and camp back there. They could chase lightening bugs, roast marshmallows, make smores, and tell scary ghost stories by the fire.
This past weekend involved ridding my side yard of the scorge of English Ivy. English Ivy is a pretty plant-- when kept under control. I did not keep it under control. It had completely taken over the two (previously) lovely bushes that provided privacy to two bedrooms on the east corner of my home. I was so heedless of this vegetation (other than listening to the gentle, rythmic scraping of wayward branches on the siding whenever the wind blew) that I'm not even sure what they were. In an earlier week, we managed to obliterate the ivy from the side of the house and the weed killer left the brick discolored. Now we faced it in battle once more. While pruning the disorderly shrubbery, which I was determined to keep, I was astonished to find how savagely the vine had attacked it. In one place the vine was just as wide as one of the trunks and had wrapped around it like a boa constrictor choking its prey. It soon became apparent that the shubbery could not be saved. It was an act of mercy to put it out of its misery. It was a lot of hard work and I found myself wistfully wishing that I had my Dad's help. But mostly his machete. There was a lot of sawing and there is still a lot to do. I thought to myself that I ought to order an identical pruning saw so that we could commence to sawing simultaneously next weekend. I asked my boyfriend what the brand name was. It's a Corona saw.