I wander outside and check the grass, knowing full well what I am going to find.
If you look closely, as South Carolina suburbanites do, you will note that my grass (to the right of Center on the picture above) is much much longer than my neighbor's grass (to the left of the Center line). This means, of course, that I'll mow mine. Then he will have to mow his. We are accustomed to this weekly interchange. It is what we do.
But today, I already know that I have an additional chore. There are always additional chores. Karen usually points them out but, as she reminds me, quite correctly, when I make despairing guttural noises, she is just the messenger.
The cactus plant near the front door is, once again, trying to create a cactus forest by sending forth seeds. Actually more like fruit than seeds. And it is easier to saw off the branch before these round whatever-you-call them things fall. In honesty, I must confess that I actually spotted this task myself with no need of a messenger. Probably because last year I procrastinated until they all fell on the ground and created a great, gooey, procreative and thoroughly pungent mess. So, without any need of prodding, I will cut these down right away and let them procreate in the County landfill.
But then I walk around the side of the house and I utter the classic grunt of despair.
The Pine Straw Man has been here.
I actually like the Pine Straw Man. He always smiles and patient allows me to try and practice my terrible Spanish. He and his family live in Lyon's, Georgia where my wife's grandmother lived. Next to Vidalia, Georgia where my wife grew up. Why he established his customer base four hours away in my subdivision, I'll never know. But for over ten years, every week -- and probably more often -- he drives his old rusty truck and a huge trailer of pine straw bales and cruises my neighborhood.
If I see him first, I run and hide and try to distract Karen so she won't hear his rattling engine. But twice a year, Fall and Spring, she flags him down.
It's going to be a long day.
One time, a few years ago, probably because I'd addicted to business plans and spreadsheets, I tried to figure why he drove all this way. Probably because all the other Subdivisions closer to Georgia are somebody else's territory. I figured out the number of bales on his trailer, multiplied them by their cost ($5.00 a bale) and figured 1 and 1/2 trips a week. I subtracted estimated costs of gas, truck repairs, baling operations, other business expenses. Conservatively, I figured he was clearing a profit of at least $200,000 a year. No wonder he smiles a lot.
And me? Fortunately, my son is going to help me spread it today. It will still take several very hot and sweaty hours. But then I will grin at my neighbor who will come out and see that, not only is my grass shorter than his but the pine straw on my flower beds is thicker.
Consequently, next week he will be the one who has to flag down the Entrepreneur from Georgia.
Mucho trabajo! Which either means "lots of work" or "too many troubadours."