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April 2, 2007

At this time last year, we spent $400 for me to scalp the ferns in our yard.

The expense represented the out-of-pocket cost of the epidural transforamenal methylcortisone injection I received in my spine so I could bend over to execute my annual task. It was important to me to maintain this benchmark of ability. The injection, the third and last I received, made me sick with flu symptoms for a week, and its intended effect of reducing nerve inflammation lasted about three weeks, compared to the three months of effectiveness the prior injections delivered.

This year, we decided it wasn’t worth it. My husband scalped the ferns. He did them all in one day; I used to take three days to scalp them. Then he mowed the front and back lawns and repaired the drip irrigators. It was a cold day, the kind of cold that incites my joints to ache, and I sat inside and read and executed cautious routines on my exercise ball. I accomplished things of value that have nothing to do with ferns.

For my husband, scalping our 29 ferns is a task at hand; for me it had been an annual triumph, a goal akin to a marathon or a century bicycle ride. I suspect he left none standing so I would not be tempted to undertake the challenge of scalping even a few. Squatting is not a good thing for my joints, nor is leaning forward with heavy trimmers or my favored machete. I’m out of a job. It’s a job more suited to him anyway. He can enjoy the primal encounters of spore dust and multitudes of ghostly little white spiders. I’ve moved on.

But I am not without triumph. I am not mired in the depression of inadequacy that I expected to subsume me. This phase of my life simply does not include scalping ferns. I’ve been given to realize that this is all right. This is an unanticipated change in perspective. Perhaps I could dare boldly to believe it is a dab of the balm of sanctification.

The benchmark has simply been moved. The primeval ferns and their attendant spores and spiders no longer live to measure my prowess.

As I assess their height and geometry, I do  think that I can deadhead the rhododendrons and prune the roses later in the season. But the ferns have become my husband’s business.

One Comment
  1. April 2, 2007 8:20 am

    I suspect there will be plenty of ferns in glory. And you will be allowed to wield a golden machete–it will feel light.

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