My wife is the gardener in family. It's a hobby I never understood; until yesterday.
Whenever we manage to coordinate a couple of simultaneous days off together (which is about as often as the Yankees have a losing season), she suggests "getting house stuff done." This is her riff on the "Honey-Do" list.
House stuff is usually divided between the two of us: during the winter months I might do some form of physically demanding renovation (replacing a toilet, for instance), she will clean the place top to bottom - dusting included. This suits me; I hate dusting.
Once summer rolls around, tasks change.
House stuff then becomes: me doing some form of physically demanding renovation (replacing a toilet, for instance); she will garden.
I know less about gardening than most other things I'm surrounded with. Every plant I see I call a begonia, simply because I like the word 'begonia'. Not only that, but I say it with a burst on the 'b' and a bit of a sing-song on the 'onia'. It can be really annoying. Someone will point at a flower in my wife's garden (notice, I claim no ownership of the shrubbery on my property) and ask her what type of plant it is. I will immediately deadpan: "Begonia". She will explain it is a black-eyed susan, and that her husband has maturity issues.
Yellow Begonia - Wikipedia
Watching my wife tend to the garden year after year, I have the impression this activity consists of nothing more than pulling up what was planted last season, and relocating it for the upcoming season. Next year, she will either find a new spot for it, or maybe even move is back to where it was last year. It's all very strange to me.
She'll try to include me: "What do you think if I line the walkway with hastas?"
"What about begonias?" I suggest.
"Sure," I contribute more maturely "should I run to the nursery (strange name for a plant store: 'nursery') and pick some up?"
"No, no. I was going to pull up the ones from the backyard and move them in front."
"What will we put in the back, then?"
"I don't know." She thinks a minute "Maybe some of the black-eyed susans I planted out front last year.
I would leave her to it, and go replace a toilet.
I don’t mind plumbing work - anything, as long as it's not painting, I don’t mind home renovations in general, but plumbing especially has a certain warrior quality to it: pulling up the old, gross toilet; cleaning out the squishy brown wax originally installed in 1955; getting dirty, and grunting and sweating as you haul in the new unit; making a big show of being upset at having to run to the hardware store since the *%#@ toilet company didn't include all the parts with the new toilet (when, in reality, a quiet drive alone in the car with a cold soda and the kids at home is pure heaven); hefting the shiny new bowl into place; and watching with success as everyone defecates into brand new porcelain thanks to your hard work.
THAT'S labor! THAT'S satisfaction.
Until things don't go so well.
Until water starts to pour from under the bowl all over the floor. Until, despite removing the toilet, cleaning it all over again, replacing the tiles you ripped up with the original toilet, and reinstalling the new one, your basement bathroom floods anyway. Until the guy in the plumbing department tells you: "It's a crack in the porcelain. Need a new toilet."
Then, there's no satisfaction whatsoever.
Then, a toilet ceases to be something to be proud of, and reveals its true nature: a bowl to catch shit.
That was two weeks ago.
Yesterday, I weeded our vegetable garden for three hours (I was a little behind in my weeding this year...and last year...and the year before that).
I was filthy, and sweaty. My nails were black. Sweat from my chest has dripped so consistently onto my thighs in my hunched position, my shorts were wet too. My neighbour rang the doorbell and was honestly startled at my appearance.
Funny thing, though: I didn't want to stop.
I have never worked so physically hard at something I didn't want to end.
Holy crap! It was true what they said about gardening! All that mumbo jumbo about 'getting back to the earth', and 'communing with Mother Nature' - it's actually true!
Why would anyone NOT want to garden?
Given the choice of cleaning human waste out of a toilet, or composted natural waste out of an outdoor box, why would anyone choose the former?!
It was an epiphany.
I understood why my wife became the gardener, and I became the plumber: she's smarter than I am.
It won't last, though.
I was trying to pull more weeds from between paving stone today. Instead of gardening tools, I used my plumber's blow torch. I destroyed a wasp’s nest with it, too.
Tomorrow, I may try using a plunger to pull carrots from the garden.
The day after that, I'm showing my wife how to connect a water supply to a bidet; I've figured you out, my dear. Begonias, here I come!
How to Install a Toilet - www.freediyhomeimprovement.com