Killing Weeds, Finding the Dead Duck and Planting Grass

Pulling weeds

Audrey and Stephanie, an MMU student, pull weeds in a garden on the back side of Sacred Heart Convent next to MMU.

Well, Saturday was quite a gardening day. Audrey and I had volunteered for a day of service at Mount Mercy University, and we were assigned with a group that was going to clean up some flower beds around Sacred Heart Convent, which is just east of MMU.

There be lots of weeds in those gardens! Or there were …

For much of the morning, we worked our way around the convent, first working alone with an English student named Stephanie, then joined by other students and staff. The first hour passed very slowly, and when the chapel bells rang the hour, it was hard to believe that it was only 9 a.m.

But the day got a bit sunnier and a bit warmer and the pace of time picked up a bit. It’s nice on one of these service days to have a gardening chore—I like working outdoors anyway, but you can see the impact of your efforts in a patio swept of leaves, a trimmed bush and the weeds that aren’t there anymore.

One of our favorite moments was when an MMU maintenance worker explained one plant at length—how the Indians double boiled its leaves, how the birds love the berries that are not edible for humans—and then noted, “yeah, it’s a weed, pull it.”

When we had completely circled the convent, we were pulling weeds in some rocks by the back side of the building when we noticed a bit of an odor. Then a pile of feathers. Than the owner of the feathers, a long-deceased duck lying next to the convent.

The maintenance men came to the rescue and carted poor Daffy away. Stephanie took a bouquet of spent flowers I had cut and presented to her and Audrey and laid them in the spot to honor the poor departed Donald.

But really, the deceased mallard didn’t cast much of a pall (or smell, thank goodness) over the day. We felt pretty good at what we had done, enjoyed a hearty lunch and ice cream social, and then the day of gardening at MMU was done. I stayed on campus for a bit to print some papers to grade, and when I got home, Audrey was gone to visit our daughter Katy. No matter, I mowed the front yard and gathered the clippings to scatter on new grass I was planning to plant on bare spots in back.

Before I did so, Audrey arrived with Tristan and Nikayla, our under 2 grandson and 3-year-old granddaughter. They both assisted with the grass planting—Nikayla even grabbing a small plastic rake to help me, with my bigger cultivating rake, work the seeds in a bit.

Morning Glory

Morning Glory in bloom in my front garden on Sept. 24.

It was a satisfying day.

Not the last day of gardening. Sunday night, Audrey and I got online and ordered bulbs. Lots of bulbs. I think it was 500 crocuses? Maybe 100 tulips and a couple hundred daffodils, plus 100 or so grape hyacinth. Watch out, Cate and Katy. If we run out of room, there could be guerilla plantings going on …

We took it easy last fall on bulb planting. Obviously, that’s not the plan this year.

Last time I did much bulb planting, it was the fall that Lizzie was born. Amanda is again pregnant, and we’ve got a bunch of bulbs arriving in the post soon.

Coincidence? I don’t know. But I am going to enjoy lots of new flowers next spring!


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