My Family

Male Nesting

My husband has been obsessively working in the gardens and seeding the lawns during the past month.

This is his way of nesting – he even said so this morning, as he was putting a little wire fence around our strawberry rectangle (sure, it would be more poetic to call it a “patch” – but it’s not. It’s a rectangle) and then draping some sort of mesh over the top to let light in and keep bugs, animals, and curious little boys out.

The grass seed has been the longest-running project this spring. He and his friend John roto-tilled the back yard to get rid of the ankle-breaking hills and valleys back there, and then Bill fertilized and seeded it. And then every morning he would get up early (okay, I would wake up early and wake him up so he could get up) and get the sprinklers going, and every evening he’d run the sprinklers again. Which is fine. It needed to be done.

But the best part would be the sight of him patrolling the perimeter, pausing every now and then to squat down and squint at the dirt, looking for a baby blade of green to poke through.

One day I stood in the kitchen and just watched him squatting there, staring, unblinking, at the brown back yard. I could see him trying to will the seed to grow. It was agony for him. Two weeks – two long weeks went by, with lots of watering, lots of staring, lots of second-guessing his gardening methods, and occasional cursing of the flock of starlings that had a nice picnic in the back yard one morning…Bill would come back inside, dejected, muttering to himself, almost tearful.

It was…well, it was annoying except that it came in useful one time when I was starting to go insane because I hadn’t felt the baby move lately one night and he said, in a sort of “not again” tone of voice, that the baby was fine. Which, of course, was not what I wanted to hear but it annoyed me enough that I came up with two perfect analogies that Bill could relate to so he could understand why lack of baby movement was torture for me. The grass seed – and his staring at it for huge chunks of time willing it to grow – was one analogy. (The other analogy was beer-brewing-related: I likened my temporary worry to how he feels when the latest batch of beer doesn’t start fermenting as rapidly as he thinks it should. This involves a lot of staring at the stuff and willing the yeast to start working. Very much like watching grass seed not grow.)

So back to the nesting…we now have a lovely brick walkway around the raised vegetable garden…he has plans to put flagstone in behind it to separate some of the smaller gardens…some of the smaller gardens have been weeded and mulched…all the grass seed (that wasn’t carried off by birds) has FINALLY sprouted and the yard looks more green than brown now…plans are made for creating a fruit garden along the back fence – we already have a thriving raspberry bush that was his mom’s, and will put in blueberries and whatever else we think of, once we move the monster climbing rosebush somewhere and move the last of the irises up to the front of the house, and move the other plants and flowers to their assorted new homes. We will have someone come in and grind the stump from the dead maple, and then we’ll plant the little baby red maple in that spot…and then fence in the back yard so Alex will be easier to keep track of…and on and on.

Bill is now taking a nap. Impending fatherhood is exhausting work.

Leave a Reply