I’m a fraud. A fake. A pretender. And the proof is in the potting shed.
Yes, this is my jewel of a potting shed – the one that takes center stage in many of my photos, the place where I find peace in the middle of winter as I start my seeds, the backyard structure that allows me to believe that I have a Martha (no need for last names here) existence.
Clearly, though, nothing could be further from the truth.
I came to the realization long ago that I am not, no matter how hard I try, Martha-esque. I get dirty when I garden. I have a tendency to use every pot in the kitchen when I cook (although I now know to clean as I go). And I have been known to step on the prongs of a rake, sending the handle swinging up into the side of my head — on more than one occasion. But it’s the condition of this shed that really says, “You, sir, are no Martha.”
I’m not even sure how I let the shed get away from me. Laziness? Maybe. Distractions? Probably. Summer heat raising the inside temperature one degree shy of hell? Most definitely.
In any event, over the course of the summer, the shed has become a catchall of lawn tools, pool paraphernalia, and bathing suits. (Quite honestly, the build-up of heat in the shed is perfect for quickly drying wet suits and towels. I’m just saying.)
The start of autumn, with its cooler weather, is a perfect time to straighten up said shed. At last, I can finally enter the oven. I wonder what I’ll find inside.
Here we have the princess of the shed, a shovel that has never touched dirt. Joe gave it to me as a Christmas gift years ago and, well, it looks too pretty to use. I like the shovel’s overall shape and the shiny spade and the smooth lines of the handle. So, it hangs on a hook near the door so I can gaze at it – and walk by it as I select one of its grittier workhorse neighbors hanging a few pegs away.
I may be the one person in the entire country who purchased a pair of these spiked shoes. I thought the concept made perfect sense. Just slip these over my sneakers and I can mow and aerate the lawn at the same time. Multitasking in the garden. Certainly, Martha would approve.
At least that’s the theory. In reality, the shoes either fall off or the spikes get stuck in the ground so walking becomes wobbly and baby giraffe-like. And gingerly stepping across the driveway while pushing the lawn mower to the other side of the yard while balancing on a bed of nails – try that multitasking, Martha!
The spiked shoes have remained in the shed ever since, a reminder of a poor purchasing decision – although one made with the best of intentions.
On the other hand, this grate is the greatest 25 cents I’ve ever spent in my life. Originally used as the top of a small pet’s cage, I found it in a thrift store and immediately turned it into a sifter – the tool of my dreams.
Many, many years ago, when Joe’s parents owned our house, they decided to replace large swaths of lawn with rocks. As Joe and I decided to make the yard more green and less quarry, we would either pick rocks by hand or grab a shovel – not the pretty one – and try to dig, each time literally hitting a wall. Enter the sifter.
This sifter and I have moved mountains of rocks over the years. In fact, Joe and I still joke that it wouldn’t be a summer without stones. This sifter is more than a good thing; it’s a beautiful thing.
At the end of the day – and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich later – the shed has been returned to its Martha state of mind. All that has to be added now are the terracotta pots and other assorted yard stuff in need of winter protection.
As for me, true to my so-not-Martha self, I look exactly as the shed did earlier in the day. Filthy. Spider webs stuck to my clothes. Smudges of grime across my face. Pieces of – what is that, anyway – in my hair. Although I am in desperate need of a deep cleaning, it was a well-spent day – and that, most certainly, is a good thing. Martha would be proud.
And so too is the shed.