When I a was young entrepreneur in Milford, Mich., there was one summer day that I helped my neighbors, the Merrills, weed in their front “lawn.”
The couple didn’t have flower beds — or any landscaping really — but instead a yard full of rocks that for some reason Mrs. Merrill wanted to keep free of weeds.
The Merrills did have several older children who parked their cars on the front lot. I am sure it would have been a disaster if one of those vehicles punctured a tire on some weeds.
As an 8-year-old, it didn’t bother me that the neighbors’ front yard was gravel. I saw the dusty rocks as an opportunity, but I am quite sure that my parents and other neighbors were all but thrilled with the eyesore at the center of the small-town cul-de-sac.
My disdain for the Merrill clan was sprouted not from a drop in property values, but from spending a few hours of crouching on the ground and only receiving a shiny quarter for my troubles.
This was 1985, give or take, not the ’30s when I could buy with a nickel a loaf of bread, side of beef, Model T and bus fare to California.
This was the mid-’80s when I was trying to scrounge up $10 for a He-Man action figure, and then maybe some extra grip for a couple of those ice cream bars that are shaped like a foot — with the gum in the toe — purchased from the local frozen treats truck.
I am not greedy, but a couple of bucks would have sufficed.
Man, things have changed.
Sunday, I spent more hours on my own lawn than my little fingers could have handled on the Merrills’ rock garden. . . and we spent hundreds of dollars to do it.
I have to give credit to Jami and her mother who worked for more than seven hours straight planting flowers, uprooting other flowers, killing weeds and spreading mulch.
Most of my work was restricted to shoveling earth for flower beds and new trees. That chore actually falls right in line with the results of the career placement test I took in high school, which suggested that I should go into the field of ditch digging or grave robbing.
At least Sunday was a cool day, I couldn’t imagine that type of work being done in 90-degree heat with sun bearing on our backs.
I know that Sunday was Earth Day, but it wasn’t intentional that we planted that day. In fact, it never actually occurred to me that we were helping the environment until after we were done.
You don’t have to thank me now, just remember that I planted trees when you take your next breath. You’re welcome.
When I look back on how much I helped the environment this weekend, and made our home aesthetically more pleasing, the hard work was well worth it.
But there were a few times later in the evening, when the final holes were being dug as blisters were growing, that I thought the Merrills may have been on to something.
It never actually came to that point, but I did consider throwing rocks across the lawn and breaking out the piggy bank to pay the neighbor kids to rid the property of anything green.