Saturday, June 30, 2007

The joy of working together

Today some friends from church came over to help us do yardwork. It had been arranged by a friend of mine, who knew we were feeling pressure about moving and leaving some things undone for our renters.

We live on 1 3/4 acres, most of which is not nicely landscaped. We have planted beds here and there, but between the blackberries, crabgrass, deer, moles, and inertia, it's not easy to keep it nice. While I would have liked a more landscaped yard for these past 9 years, it hasn't really bothered me too much. As I told the lady who is moving in, "it's a fun yard, not a nice ladies' tea type of yard."

Still, we wanted to get some of the blackberries and other weeds down before our renters move in. I think they know what to expect, sort of, but I don't want them to drive up and start hating it here right away because it's so wild and messy.

Anyway, there were a couple of dads alone, a dad with 2 young boys, and a whole family of 5 which included a teen boy who can really work, and I mean hard, his younger sister who helped me immensely in the kitchen, and his toddler brother who just had fun.

We cut down blackberries, spread mulch, pulled weeds, trimmed shrubs. The kids got all the yucky toys out of the sandbox and cleaned out the playhouse. The 8 and 10 year old boys muscled the play kitchen out of it and down the steps. The happiest 5 year old I've ever met swept the playhouse out when it was empty.

At the end of the day it was just 3 dads working together. I could hear them talking and it seemed like it was deep stuff, not superficial chitchat. Except for checking on their hydration needs, I kept away and worked in another area. I didn't want to constrain their conversation.

One of the men had been over a few weeks ago to help with some siding. He pointed out that men used to work together that way all the time and how great it was to work and talk. Really talk. Today, one of the other men made a similar observation. He said if men in the church got together to work more often, there'd be more understanding among them. People would get along better. But I thought about some people at our church who don't seem to want that closeness; they'd probably just stay away. I think the my husband had the same feeling last week when yet another family came over to help us. He and the husband of that family spent 12 hours one day, working on a deck. He said he had a great time, though the work was hard.

It was really a sweet day. It is very humbling to have people come over and do work I should have done myself. To receive thanks for food I prepared for them, even though it was just hot dogs and store-bought potato salad - and if they weren't doing me a favor, I wouldn't be feeding them anyway.

There's still a fair bit of work to be done - all those blackberry vines have to be hauled out to the woods. But it sure went faster and was much more pleasant today with people working together. Two of the families working here today might be moving away themselves. It's too bad we won't be around to help them with their unfinished projects.

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