It was when I found myself knee-deep in a pile of leaves and dead chrysanthemum branches yesterday that I realized we are "those neighbors." You know the ones I mean - usually the first ones to put up/take down holiday decorations, pull the trash can away from the curb or begin landscaping. The neighbors who, because of their eagerness to play in the yard, forces the others on the block to get out and do their landscaping, too, because no one wants to be the other kind of neighbors, i.e. the trashy ones.
Now it's not like I really wanted to be out doing yard work on big game Sunday. Although the welcome sunlight and temps in the mid-50s did help exponentially. But the best gardening advice my grandmother ever gave me was to always cut back the flower beds on the first weekend of February, especially the roses. She told me that even if I did nothing else, pruning on the first weekend of February would almost guarantee a full and healthy rose bush come spring. I've always adhered to that rule and I've always had very successful rose bushes, even when I was growing them in pots on an apartment balcony. She also told me to be wary of marrying a conservative, but that's another story for another day.
So I cut, trimmed, hauled, and otherwise played in the dirt on Sunday afternoon and now all of the flower beds look much less like a spooky Tim Burton creation. I'm concerned about the lily bulbs that have already sprouted, as well as the mums which have greened at the base, especially since today we've accumulated about an inch or so of snow. Mother Nature is apparently not a gardening fan this year. I did learn that gardening and pyromania do go hand in hand when pruning pampas grass. Simply cut back as much as you're comfortable with and set the rest ablaze. It will burn down to a lovely, ashy stump and when warmer weather comes the new growth will pop right through. Now that I've been saddled with this bit of knowledge, I probably won't ever plant pampas grass so closely to my home ever again...I went ahead and burned it, but was terrified the entire time of the house catching on fire, too!
So while busy with all of this, I became very cognizant of the dirty looks from neighbors who I'm sure would rather I'd stayed lazy for another few weeks or so. Thus, the realization that I have become "that neighbor." Perhaps I'll leave the trash can at the curb a few extra days this week as penance, lest my mailbox flag get ripped off again. Damn hoodlum kids.