May 3, 2019

how to buy a bag of copacetic dirt

Somebody else's maple.
With branches and stuff.
Eleven o'clock came and I took my keys out of my purse and put on sunglasses.  I walked past the offices of co-workers.

"Hey, Karen, need anything from Home Depot?" I asked.


"Hey, John, need anything from Home Depot?"

".... Noooooooo?"

"Hey, Sheila, need anything from Home Depot?"

"Who the hell even says that?"

I was just trying to be helpful.  Somehow it's different when I say Target, but I don't know why because Home Depot has everything anyone could ever want.  Then again, it's the kind of place where you can wander around for three hours and go from feeling fine to feeling completely inadequate and five years behind some sort of due date, so far behind that you should just slink away home to your grungy, outdated cardboard box.

It was a simple mission today:  I wanted to buy some dirt.

When we bought The Lodge, the seller, who is a rather odd little man whom I suspect is a positive person but otherwise seems okay, planted a baby Japanese maple for us, right in front of the house, beside the sidewalk.  That was a sweet gesture.  Japanese maples are delicate things and must be nurtured and guarded and tended in order to make it through those first few fragile and precarious years.  We had a geas laid upon us to grow this tree.

Then our dogs happened to it.

I won't tout our efforts to block it off because they were feeble at best and the dogs ripped them all down and what happened to the tree is one hundred percent our fault.  Molly did gnaw the north-facing half of its branches off and dig until reaching the root ball and exposing it to the dead of winter, but most of the damage has been done because the dogs have kept getting their leads wrapped around the tree and then pulling like a truck winch trying to get free of the entanglement.  This has happened well over a hundred times.

The leaf blight last summer wasn't their fault.  I think the tree was just trying to commit suicide to beat the rush.  But the dogs clearly finished it off this past winter.

And yet ....

Last week we arrived at The Lodge and saw miraculous little dark purple leaves all over the remaining branches of the tree.  It's alive.  It sat there, being alive, and pathetic, and shabby.  It was listing to one side.  We decided it deserves better of us.  So today, I was at Home Depot, ready to buy some dirt so we can fill the hole back in and feed it and help it along.

Oh, don't worry about the dogs.  If they start digging again, we'll just shoot them.

This was my first time in a gardening department during spring.  I don't plant.  So I wasn't prepared for what I found there.

There beneath the heady, metallic chemical cloud, they have dirt.  Lots of dirt.  They have dirt for orchids and dirt that helps grass seed grow.  They have dirt that prevents weeds and dirt that only prevents some kinds of weeds and not others and costs less.  They have dirt for morning and dirt for evening.  They have dirt that resists fungus and dirt that makes you grow way more peppers than you can eat in a summer so you have to put the extra ones in brown paper bags and bring them to church with you.  They have dirt with mulch in it and dirt for flowers and dirt with nitrogen and dirt with moisture-wicking properties, like a sports garment.

I couldn't find any bags that just said DIRT.

I went up to a register to ask for help.  The two ladies were talking about bunions and finished their conversation before turning to me, because my question was not possibly as interesting as a bunion.  And they must have been psychic because that was true.  "I'm looking for dirt," I began.  "Just, like, some dirt.  In a bag.  Dirt."

God only knows what they're saying behind my back now that I'm gone, but I left with a bag of some kind of magic-laden substance that looks exactly like dirt but is supposed to infuse the soil around our Japanese maple with swirling cosmic energy and the essence of life.  And some poles and wire to block it off so that there will actually be a tree living there to absorb all that psychedelic goodness.

And some Round-Up for everything else.  I don't want the grass getting any ideas about peace and joy and rampant procreation.

Update:  It might not be pretty, but it works!


  1. Oh my gosh, this whole post! LOL
    I hope your tree enjoys the dirt present you gave it. Hopefully your too much love doesn't kill it. I kill all my plants, so I'm projecting fears here.

    1. Yes, but ... have you killed a pothos?

    2. HOW DID YOU KNOW. I have four surviving plants: 3 pothos (or something related to that, very viney but the leaves are the same) and a Wandering Jew (please excuse its slight racism, I got it from Grandma, who grew up in another era).
      My cats have combined their efforts against all my houseplants though.

  2. Don't prune the dead stuff off during a full moon, wait until there's no moon. Sap rises during a full moon and the pruned ends will 'bleed'. No moon, no rising sap, so no 'bleed' and the ends of the cuts will seal faster or just dab a bit of vaseline at the ends to protect the cut ends from sharp winds.

    Don't fertilize it with anything that has bone meal or blood in it - I've done that and Doc tried to dig to Australia to get at the yummy scent. Goddess knows where the plants ended up, 'cause they're not in the garden.

    And you only killed one Pothos - not easily done but it happens.

    1. Just to be clear - I don't mean prune at night in the light of a moon, that's just asking for a cut finger, or being eaten by bugs :)

  3. That looks perfect to me. You're brilliant - only stating the obvious. Love you

    1. I would cut my finger and be eaten by bugs in broad daylight. The dogs thoroughly tested the surround we built and it held up marvelously ... and yesterday the tree had already perked up and its leaves had lifted about a foot off the ground. It is, indeed, happy. We have named it The Jesus, as in the guy from The Big Lebowski, not the zombie.