Get a little dirt on your hands, son…

I don’t have a problem with hard work.  What’s that old saying, “A little hard work never hurt anybody?”

Hell, I’ll just Bill Anderson explain all.

A little hard work doesn’t bother me.  Which is why I’ve had no problem assisting my girlfriend Nicole when it comes to gardening.  Dig out a patch of grass to convert into a small rose-growing portion of land?  No probs.  Pour that bag of mulch over there?  Got’cha covered.

Then came the saga of the bushes.  There were two large, overgrown bushes on the side of Nicole’s house.  The bushes were ugly and hard to maintain, and she wanted to pull them out and replace them with flowers and more manageable shrubbery.

“Don’t worry about a thing,” I said.  “I’ll get them out of the ground for you.”

I got the shovel and started to dig around the bush.  Unfortunately, this bush was saying back to me, “Son, you’re not pulling me out of anywhere.  I’m staying put.  And so’s my cousin.   This land is our land, this land ain’t your land…”

Well, I suppose if bushes could talk, that’s what he said.

Undaunted, I borrowed Nicole’s floral pruning shears and trimmed away the branches to one of the bushes.  And after careful digging and pulling and tugging and yanking and struggling…

One of the trunks came out of the ground.  One of them.

I wasn’t done with the job.  Tell that to my body.  It said it was done.

And the bush said, “Ha ha ha, you’re a wimp, Chuck, you can’t get me out of the ground, I’m going to grow for years and years, whether you like it or not.   This land is our land, this land ain’t your land…”‘

At this point in time, I had three options.  I could either:

  • (A) keep working on the bushes until I discovered the wonderful world of hernias.
  • (B) pay somebody to remove the bushes and take credit for their work.
  • (C) go to Home Depot and purchase about 35 gallons of Roundup and just “napalm” the entire side of the house, weeds, roots, other plants and all.

And in the end, I chose Option D.

And Option D meant that I would take a rest…. and come back another day with some better tools and stronger resolve.

A few days later, I arrived at Nicole’s place.  The weed-like hedges were still there, mocking me with their very existence.

Ha ha Miller, you ain't getting us out of the ground... we're staying put.  This land is our land, this land ain't your land...
Ha ha Miller, you ain’t getting us out of the ground… we’re staying put. This land is our land, this land ain’t your land…

Ah, but I didn’t arrive alone.  I brought a few friends along.  And by “friends,” I mean –

  • I picked up some industrial strength pruning shears, which were capable of chewing away branches that were as thick as 1 1/4″ in diameter.
  • I picked up a shovel with a sharp, pointed blade, which cut through the ground-clamped roots with the force of a Ginsu knife.
  • I picked up a six-pack of bottled water.  For every two full lawn-refuse bags of bush-leavings, I get one bottle of Poland Spring to drink.  Keep my strength up.

And I began to dig.  And to prune.  And to chop.  And to stuff the lawn-refuse bags.

Trust me, the bushes tried to fight me every step of the way. Every time I thought I cleared away some branches, the roots seemed to prevent bush extraction.  Every time I dug my shovel into the ground, it felt like the trunk was holding onto the earth with the force of Mother Nature.

Didn’t matter.  I kept digging.  Harder.  Stronger.  No way am I going to disappoint my girlfriend.  50th resolution, remember?  Dig.  Push.  Cut.  Trim.  Stuff.  Dig.  Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.

And just when I thought it wouldn’t or couldn’t budge another step…

I felt the trunk give way.  The trunk of the bush, not the trunk of my waist.

Out it came.


After I guzzled down an extra bottle of Poland Spring, I attacked the second bush.  With pruners and shovels, with might and force, and with plenty of rest breaks, I could feel the trunk coming loose, like a tooth coming loose from the gum.

And… eventually…

Out it came.  Trunk, roots, branches and all.

Yeah.  And after doing all that, after impeaching both these bushes from their long-elected positions…

Your man did what any self-respecting gardener would do.

That’s right.  I took a selfie.

Yeah, I got a little dirt on my hands. And on my shirt. And on my face.

Once I get a chance to clear out all the leftover roots in the ground, when I can help my girlfriend plant some flowers to replace those old, grungy bushes…

That will feel truly good.

Kinda funny, though… as I hauled the final remaining stump of those old bushes over for curbside pickup by the neighborhood waste disposal truck…

I started whistling a little song.  Something about traveling from California to the New York Islands… from the redwood forests, to the Gulfstream waters…