Norman Knight: Committed to worrying — for no good reason

We were under a lot of pressure.

True, the pressure was self-imposed, but still, Becky and I were feeling anxious about the looming Trafalgar Country Gardener’s Annual Hot Dog Roast.

For me, the trepidation started in the moments just after the club president announced the site where the event normally occurs was not available this year. Karen, our earnest and committed leader wondered if one of us club members would be willing to host the roast. After one or two beats of brief silence Becky spoke up: “We can have it at our house.”

“What did she just say?” I asked myself.

Before we got home, Becky was having doubts about the commitment she had just made. She was mentally listing and then speaking all of the things we would need to do to get our place ready for a gathering of likely 20-30 gardeners and spouses.

Though we enjoy tending our flower and vegetable gardens, and consider the little clearing in the woods we call home near-heaven, we are never going to have a featured photo spread in Better Homes and Gardens, or for that matter, even a brief write-up in Mediocre Homes and Gardens.

And the thought that the members of our garden club — people who are committed to developing and nurturing beautiful garden landscapes—would be observing with a critical and knowing gardener’s eye our deer-eaten hostas and lumpy, mole-tunneled yard was Fear itself.

See, our thinking on orderly, thought-out gardens and well-manicured lawns is pretty much: If the lawn doesn’t get mowed for a while or the weeds get a bit too assertive, we’ll deal with it — eventually.

But the fact is, we tend to tend our gardens by our own time frames. That’s why, in the tradition of giving the place where one lives a name — Monticello, Biltmore Estate, Tara Plantation, Wayne Manor — I suggested posting a sign people would see as they pulled into our driveway that read “Lackadaisical Acres.” It might give visitors a heads up on what to expect.

Still, we were committed to the Garden Club Hot Dog Roast, so we set to work digging, pulling, clipping, re-planting and generally sprucing up the place.

Since the vegetable gardens are pretty much done for the season, it really was time to deal with that area. I must admit, after some focused work — as I said, not always our strong suit — the place looks better than it has in a while. Maybe I should have taken some before-and-after photos and have them lying around at the party to bolster our credentials as sorta, kinda Garden Club members.

Though the attendees would be outside, we realized inside the house would need to have at least a cursory straightening, just in case. We proceeded to implement the time-honored strategy of stashing our piles of stuff out of sight: under beds and chairs; in closets and cabinets; down in the basement. We even swept the floors — somewhat.

On the day of the big event, we pulled three card tables out from the basement and borrowed two from our neighbors for the food and drinks. I started the fire early enough so that it would be glowing with coals when the time came.

And right on time, the first cars started arriving. As things got started, our gracious president commented to the group why she loves this garden club. One reason: “We don’t judge; we just enjoy each other.”

And it’s true.

Five hundred years ago, the writer Michel de Montaigne said: “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.” That’s certainly the way it usually goes for me and my worries. And I believe, for Becky’s, as well.

Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to [email protected].