Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fathers Day

When I get angry, or a find some significant piece of my world view collapsing around me, I work. I can't help it, it's one of those things I got from my father. We're passive-aggressive white protestants, what can I say? So, when on this fine Father's Day I found myself ready to tackle a serious project, I headed outside and my gaze landed on the plastic pond that the old man had given me several years ago. Like much of what I've gotten from him, I didn't ask for it, didn't particularly want it, but didn't seem to be able to leave it behind anywhere.

The "pond," two plastic basins and a box of pumpy stuff, has been with us for about a decade, stuffed in the corner of the shed for most of that time, more recently leaned against the fence. After Hurricane Gustav I noticed that the larger piece was a fair fit for a hole left by the uprooted gum tree that took out the old shed, and I dragged it up there to check. I even dug around a little at one point, but mostly it's just been sitting there, a big black vinyl reminder of my endless to-do list.

I thought I might dig around for a few minutes and make a little progress before going on to other things. There is very little that is more grounding than digging a hole. It is both physically demanding and undeniably objective. There are no shades of grey -- just a growing cavity and a matching pile of dirt.

So a few minutes turned into all day, and at the end of it both basins were (more or less) in the ground, filled with water, and the pump assembly was miraculously complete and working, despite having knocked around in an open box for ten years. There is, of course, much more to do. Landscaping and rock work, plants, and maybe a goldfish or two. I've actually made my to-do list longer by crossing off one thing. But it's a thing, and sometimes doing a thing has to be enough.

It will look better with some plants and stones. 
Hey, is that a tomato pergola in the background there?

The strangest thing about the whole episode is that I was out there at least four hours before it ever occurred to me that there might be a link between the day and my choice of project. I would be tempted to dismiss it as coincidence, but the tie is so clear that it's hard to buy. Fathers Day has been a strange sort of occasion for me since my father passed away, and I'm apparently still finding my way through this. Minds are awfully strange things, and I often suspect mine of being stranger than most.


  1. I found this very moving.

    And of course I envy your wife being married to someone who works out his issues by digging in the yard!

    Happy Father's Day, Chris.

  2. Ditto what the above commenter said, on all points. :)

  3. Thanks, marnilla. And Jane. But I don't know how envious I would be of my wife. I'm forced to admit that I may not be the easiest person in the world to live with.

  4. "It's a thing, and sometimes doing a thing has to be enough." I think this is my new favorite quote.

  5. Moving post. Your dad would be teary-eyed to read this...I know the pond will be awesome - take pics -- if you have 'coons or dogs running loose don't try koi...