When There Are Weeds

Gardening isn’t something that I’ve ever enjoyed.  I blame Sundays.

Growing up, I could count on the following four things happening every. single. Sunday.

First, church.  Next, change into swimsuits as soon as you get home and head outside to begin an hour or two of grueling yard work in the sizzling balmy South Florida sun. Thirdly, end the agony by jumping into the swimming pool; and finally, follow it all up with soup and sandwiches on the patio.

Every Sunday.

Like clockwork.

Only, yard-work.

As you can imagine, I learned a few lessons.

The first one left scars.

If we didn’t get out there and start all the weeding and what-not before the scorching Florida sunshine was fully ablaze, we’d find ourselves turning into crispy critters.  And I did – on far too many occasions. As my handful of burnt off pre-melanomas proclaim. Putting sunscreen on, before heading out, always seemed like such a waste of time.

I’ll tell you what was wasted – my youth!  Ol’ Georgie Bernard Shaw had it right.

I also learned that Sandwiches taste better after hard work. That was an easy one.

But, the lesson that has really grown a life of its own, has to do with weeds.

If you’ve ever pulled weeds, you can probably agree that weeding is not for the weak.  There are some that require more than a short quick yank, to remove. Some weeds require a full-on excavation! They’ve got to be worked over with a spade, cajoled and wiggled,  and maybe even wrung out with an extra pair of hands.

Sometimes, though, when time is tight and hands are scarce, those weeds start growing like crazy cakes. I say things like, “Oh, I’ll get to them next week,” and “Two weeks off isn’t gonna hurt much.” As long as those weeds aren’t eye-level and I can tamp them down with each footfall toward what I’d rather be doing, it’s no problem. Excuses pile up and before I know it, the weeds take over.

There are weeds in my life that have grown far too tall for me not to notice anymore.  And some of them have become downright thorny!

weeds_missindeedy

Self-discipline may indeed be a Spirit that we’re promised to be given, but I was starting to wonder if a little less was sprinkled on me.  Maybe the Self-discipline dispensary was near to empty?  I don’t know.

What I do know, is that sometimes, I really have to dig deep to force myself to do things that I know I should be doing. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that I need to call on that self-discipline that I’ve been promised.

Exercise. Wiggle, cajole.

Ordering the egg-white wrap instead of the donut. Extra pair of lips to talk me down.

Spending daily time, quietly meditating on God’s Word – or even just thinking on all that I have to be thankful for! Get that spade – I need to dig!

Looking back, I think Ahab had it exactly right. Put God first, family time next (even if it was in the form of torture yard work), and play to follow.  I’m even thinking that the eating had its proper place right there at the end, too.

So, if you’ll excuse me, there is some weeding that must be done around here.

But first, please pass the sunscreen?

Captain Ahab’s Daughter: Part 2

Growing up, my family would caravan with a couple of other families, by boat, to the Bahamas for about three weeks every summer. I wrote about this a bit over here.  Along the way, we met with some Very High Seas, indeed.  Captain Ahab liked to call it “a little boat chop”.  Right, Nana?  And now, as an adult, I find myself understanding his comic use of understatement in those moments.  The following are some of the things I remember most from those boat trips on the way over to the islands.

It started the same way every single year. We all rolled out of bed bleary eyed bright eyed and bushy-tailed at 5:00 a.m.  Captain Ahab would head over to the beach and check the horizon;“Red sky at dawn, sailors warn. Red sky at night, sailors delight.”, and all that business.  If it was a go, he’d call the other families and say, “It’s a go.”

We almost always had chocolate milk and either frosted or chocolate “donettes” before loading up on the boats.  Sometimes, the Captain would make an early run to the donut shop and we’d get fresh-baked, far healthier donuts.

I believe our three or four families single-handedly kept Coppertone in business.

We drank a lot of Coca-Colas and ate a lot of Cheezits.

Anytime someone spotted a Dolphin (the “Flipper” variety), they’d get on the “horn” (radio) and announce to the entire marine community that, “There’s a dolphin! Right over there! Look!!”; because, surely, wherever in the great Atlantic ocean any other boaters were, they, too, could see our dolphin.

Keeping count of how many Flying Fish you saw was akin to the licence plate game on road trips.

We drank a lot of Dr. Peppers and ate a lot of Oreos.

Once we were old enough to do so, the adults and smallest kids would caravan in the first two or three boats (read that, the bigger boats), and they’d let us three or four oldest kids take the “dingy”. Now, this dingy was a 13′ Boston Whaler.  It wasn’t a canoe.  But when you are facing 2-4 foot seas, for three hours, it’s a bit daunting.  There were moments where we would be cresting a wave and that little boat would dip down into a crevice and I would almost swear that The Parents were all watching, a little too intently, to see if the next wave was going to slam the oblivion out of us, or if we’d make it out.  Alive. My Sweetbrother would yell “YEEHAW!” at the top of his lungs and just forge ahead through those waves like they were so many flowers in a field and he was a lawn mower.  But some of us, (me), would be holding on for dear life and wondering what in the Sam Hill we (I) did to deserve this torture?

As we became older and more stupid adventurous, we took some risks that make me shudder as a parent.  If it was a flat calm ride over, we would stop in the middle of the inky-blue 1,000-plus foot deep seas and water ski for a bit.  Yes,  water ski.  Halfway between South Florida and the Bahamas.  In the midst of the Bermuda Triangle. There.  With water skis.  And Stupidity. And, just for the record, guess what movie was number one at the box office back then?  Yup… Jaws.

One year, one of Ahab’s oldest friends, (who happened to be one of the country’s top Navy Underwater Research Diver’s at the time), and his wife, accompanied us on our yearly trip.  This poor guy’s wife was so seasick the entire trip over. The adults gave him such a hard time, cracking jokes about how “Aqua-Man” ended up with a seasick wife; only, as it turned out, the poor thing was pregnant.  So, in an act of mercy, the adults flew her back on a Chalk’s Seaplane.  So she’d be comfortable.  Because Lord knows, there’s nothing more comfortable, for a first-trimester pregnancy, than a ride on a seaplane.

When we finally arrived, the kids waited while the adults cleared everyone through customs.  And, it’s a miracle that the Bahamian authorities kept letting us come back every year.  I’m fairly certain they hurried us through customs just to stop all the caterwauling.  Or broke out the Rum as soon as they spied our boats entering their waters.  I know the parents did.

And here we are twenty-some-odd years later, and I get it.  Once again, I see the wisdom in letting kids have an “adventure” once in a while, to break up the monotony.  I now understand that teaching children games to play while on boat trips car-rides is just good parent sense.  And knowing that what lies at the end of the journey will trump even a horrible journey is a gift we give to our kids. Yes indeedy!