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Preparing for the Nonstop Post-Pandemic Tea Party: The Future of a Garden

On Wednesday, March 3 along with nearly all of my coworkers, I received my first shot of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. The anxiety I feel about this has no relation to any potential side-effects or future medical consequences. What is tugging at me is the impending change that is about to take place in society at large. Dr. Fauci says now is not the time to return to normal, but “normal” seems to be approaching like a tidal wave. The first Friday night after our vaccinations, we had multiple large parties eating at the restaurant, drinking more than I’ve seen anyone drink in a year, and generally appearing to be comprised of individuals from multiple households. At around this time last year we were seeing footage of completely empty freeways, watching neighbors for signs of compliance or rebellion, all while simultaneously being fascinated by meth addicts exploit big cats on Netflix’s Tiger King. Once again it’s suddenly a chore to find parking downtown, and tourists are spilling out of all the local hotels and filling up patios, demanding drinks and treats and for anyone to figure out how to turn on the propane heaters. Indoor dining will undoubtedly be opening up at limited capacity very soon, grandparents will be pulling their grandkids close, and I will be seeing my friends face to face within the next couple of months.

All of this is such a relief but at the same time coming way too fast. The respite some of the fortunate of us were given during the height of the pandemic brought a never before experienced peace and an excuse to say no to every single social invitation. During the height of isolation, when I was experiencing something that must have been akin to a retirement lifestyle, I dipped my toes in growing a vegetable garden. I taught myself how to install drip irrigation, when to sow seeds, and within a couple of months learned that one really does not need more than one zucchini plant, and in fact one does not need any zucchini plant at all because there is still a grocery store. Recently I decided to replace the vegetable garden with a paver patio so that I might be well prepared for roaring into the 20s with space for entertaining. My home is under 700 square feet and cannot fit all the people I want to invite to my post-pandemic parties, but it is on a corner lot with ample room for creating outdoor spaces.

One of my earliest pandemic projects was to build a paver patio in the large patch of dirt where a bunch of weeds used to thrive in my backyard. Everything but the leveling sand I used for that project was donated or found on the side of the road including the patio furniture. Thankfully the pavers given to me were the flatter 12’x12′ and the patch of ground was pretty small. My first patio is mostly level though it ended up being a little cramped for the furniture, so I had to put some brick extensions on it for the furniture legs on the outer borders. This next patio project I’m taking on is more ambitious, the pavers are smaller and thicker, and I jumped into it with the arrogance of someone who has already had a small degree of paver patio success. My intent was to complete the project in one day. That was my first problem. In my haste, instead of creating a level bed of sand for my patio, I made one large dune. Despite laying a shoddy foundation, I carried on with the next step and the next step and the next step, and the longer I continued, the more problems I had. My pavers were not only tilting up into a mound, but they started to shift onto a diagonal instead of straight line. I carried on as though the invitations to my garden party were already responded to, and there was no turning back. What I ended up with was a very trite and played out metaphor rubbing one of life’s important lessons in my face every time I looked at my backyard. The mound of cement served as a visual reminder not to rush into any of it.

A new era is certainly on it’s way, but the party invitations aren’t out yet. There is time to get it right. The patio I ended up with has since been dismantled, and I am approaching it slowly and methodically this time. I have at least two months. If it takes me two weeks, I’ll still have enough time. I’m trying not to rush into things. Things will eventually get back to normal, but it’s no use trying to sprint toward that goal. How do I savor the building of a patio? Most of the leveling is done in a squatting position. Maybe while I’m down there in that squat, I should think of it as “yummy,” like the annoying yoga teachers do.

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