To-do lists: helpful tools, they can also be overwhelming. I and other family members spent ten hours on Sunday helping my sister move into her new house adjacent to the nursery. And there is still so much to do! Standing in her pretty new living room on Monday afternoon, surrounded by stacks of boxes and upended chairs, Kay rattled off The List. I listened to her, the energy draining out of me. This is how Superman felt when handed a chunk of Kryptonite, I thought. The day before, I was actually RUNNING, hoisting things, loading and unloading three vans, a truck and a trailer. Now I was immobilized.

I managed to stumble outside to work on one of my to-do items: repair some of the ugly destruction done by the septic installer’s trackhoe at the edge of the forest. Where to start? Well, here’s a bucket of Piggyback Plants (Tolmiea menziesii) that need to be planted; maybe that’ll do it. Oh, and those four Sword Ferns (Polystichum munitum) heaped in my trunk that I meant to pot up – those would look nice. Oh, ugh, have to haul mulch.

My sister-in-law, Nancy, showed up. She was also suffering from list-induced Kryptonitis, so she half-heartedly began to help me. She dug holes for the ferns. They looked good. We wandered through the nursery, grabbing this and that. That cheered us up a bit. And how about that Red-Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum) that I’ve been torturing in a patio pot for the last three years? Look how pretty and happy it will be next to this mossy nurse log! Nancy’s shovel-strokes picked up steam. I hauled more mulch. After a while, the area looked pretty nice. Not the most organized way to design a landscape — it kind of designed itself.

Now a couple of Currants and a clump of seedling Red Huckleberries (Vaccinium parvifolium) soften the damage near the forest edge, and Wood Ferns (Dryopteris expansa) comfort a mangled left-behind Cascara (Rhamnus purshiana). In front of those on the edge of the new drainfield sprout Piggybacks, False Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum racemosa), lots of Inside-Out Flower (Vancouveria hexandra), and Sword Ferns. Western Meadowrue (Thalictrum occidentale) hides the ugly green septic lid. There’s room for more, but for now, we are satisfied. The green things gave us some of their energy. Mending the damage felt good. We accomplished something.

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