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Gardening isn't for the faint of heart.

The phrase is defined by The Free Dictionary as, "a person who tends to easily experience stress, fear, anxiety, sickness or discomfort when facing unpleasantness, graphic imagery, physical strain or risk." 

For example, when pulling up weeds, a copperhead snake may appear, a scenario most certainly not for the faint of heart. That being said, I've grown into a stronger person by having to deal with the ups and downs of gardening life.

Gardeners have to deal with life and death issues of plants. We gardeners don't like to mention it, but some plants should come with "do not resuscitate" on their plant tag. We tend to nurse it along until it finally says “OK, enough is enough”, it then pulls its own plug, and dies.

Depending what the cause of death was, it may or may not hit the compost bin.

Some family members like to get out of the house after their soccer team loses and start-up that dusty weed wacker. They sometimes think that we have more weeds than plants in our forest garden. Then it's off with the plant's heads and shoulders.

To keep peace, we place fences, barriers and signs around plants that shouldn't be receiving a crew cut. 

Living in the country or town, we do need to watch out for animals. I remember the good old days of being lost in my thoughts while pulling out the weeds. But then came the bears, looking around for any leftover sunflower seeds and berries. There is also the occasional bobcat that meanders about looking for food. I can deal with that, but come on, I'm mowing the lawn, just give me five more minutes to get it done, then the backyard is yours. 

So, I have adapted when gardening, always looking up and around. This year I have added another piece to my exercise routine, looking down and around. Yes, you guessed it, for reptiles.

After admiring my new perennials, I turned around and saw a 5-foot timber rattler coming my way. He too looked up at me. I won't mention the first words that came to mind, but I did make a b-line to the porch, and even at my age probably could have won an Olympic medal.

A few days passed before I went back to that perennial bed.

I would be remiss not to discuss the ticks & the chiggers. What fun would gardening be without them? 

But now I have graduated into the next level of being a Country Girl. While talking with friends, I can pull one off my neck without a pause in conversation.

Of course, sometimes they give me that look. As the temperatures rise, so do the chiggers in the grass. They wait for me to walk by and jump on my jeans for a ride. This, of course, puts me into an itching frenzy for the rest of the night. After a little research, a shower is taken immediately after gardening and the clothes go through the washing cycle.

Considering all of this, every cloud has a silver lining. We gardeners learn that some plants are just fussier than others. So, I have replaced them with some native plants that are looking healthy and swarming with pollinators. With all the bear activity, we have taken some wonderful pictures which will soon be framed. Even that snake memorial plot, has turned into a nice new place for garden art.

Last but not least, I now have some good and funny stories to share about life in the garden. Happy Gardening.

Lyndall Noyes-Brownell proudly serves as co-chair for Black Mountain Beautification Committee, an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer of Buncombe County and chair of Black Mountain Blooms Seed Lending Library. She is the webmaster for blackmountainbeautification.org and cares for plant containers in downtown Black Mountain.

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