“Survivor” Garden

(Wrote this in August, 2009)

Gardening in my own backyard continues to scare the heck out of me. Four latest incidents of terror:

For some reason that I can’t remember, I was exiting the house backwards out of my patio doors. I heard a drone that seemed like it was right behind me. In my mind it had to be a bumblebee or a hummingbird, so I whipped around to see what it was, and to beat a hasty retreat in some other direction. How humiliating to realize that it was the neighbour’s weed-whacker. I can’t explain why it sounded like it was right at my ear. Something about the garden matrix, I’m guessing.
I have explained my fear of birds in a previous post. But, to refresh your memory, I experience uncontrollable panic if a bird flies too close to me. So my dear husband had to move our birdfeeder away from the patio. It was attracting too many blue jays. The cardinals and mourning doves would scatter wildly when the jays dove in to establish their turn at the feeder. Often the dim-witted mourning doves would fly straight at me in their terror. Mutual hysteria would result.
So Mark moved the feeder to the back of the property. I was pleased. I could still enjoy all the bird antics from a safe distance. The birdfeeder now hangs above the new “corral” enclosure Mark made to hide our trash bins. What I keep forgetting is that mourning doves are groundfeeders. Last night I nonchalantly ambled to the shed to get my watering can, noticing that all was quiet at the feeder. But, as I took one step further, a half-dozen doves noisily took flight. I hadn’t seen them, of course. They were on the ground behind the fence. Once again, instant terror. In a nano-second I was crouching and assessing my escape route, shoulders pulled up to protect my vulnerable head. Picture a cross between a rabbit and a turtle, legs ready to bound away, neck shrunk into my trunk, eyes rolled back in fear. Mark howled as he watched the whole ridiculous scene from the patio. 
It gets even more ludicrous. As I am cutting the grass today, rather proud of the swashbuckling energetic figure I must cut as I vigorously push my mower, the only grandma on the street who doesn’t ride a lawn tractor, I see movement out of the corner of my eye. Wings. I tense up. It’s a monarch butterfly. I glance around. Thankfully, no one saw my cowardly shiver. Granted, that meant no one was there to admire my industry, either… 
The last jumpy moment happened tonight as I walked by one of my hanging baskets on the patio and a trailing vine grazed my hair. I did catch my breath in momentary gasp, then relaxed as I realized it was just a plant. I think I can be excused for this bit of anxiety, though. Last week at my friend Harmene’s cottage, a grasshopper the size of a dill pickle and about that colour landed on my head. No lie. Before I had time to scream, my sister Teresa screamed for me. “It’s a grasshopper! On your head!” Naturally, I was in mid-air by that point, jumping like a grasshopper myself in an agony of fear, Harmene’s lovely designer lawnchair flying backwards. The grasshopper, and not a little one, but a honking giant mutant grasshopper, had violently extricated itself out of a spider web just above me. Not quite sure why Teresa didn’t warn me in time. That matrix effect again, I suppose.
This is the absolute truth of my outdoor life. Stay tuned for tales about Teresa who is phobic about bees and my other sister Edith-Ann who dissolves at the sight of a spider.


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