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Front yard dreaming

As the children’s storybook goes, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” you open yourself up to a cascade of unintended side effects.

For Father’s Day my wife, Kim, got me a new gas grill. I find it interesting that she firmly insists it was a “Father’s Day” gift to me despite fact that she got it on Mother’s Day weekend and that she is the primary person who has issues with our current gas grill. For the record, our current grill was purchased at a garage sale for $10 about a decade ago and last summer a horde of hornets decided to build their home under its front panel.

As can be imagined, this made for some fun times cooking out as the hornets were not happy when their home would heat up. I perfected the flip and dash method of grilling where I would quickly rush my grilling before closing the lid and retreating to safety.

Kim’s answer to this was to invest in high powered hornet killing spray and turn our front deck into a hornet death zone. When it comes to biting or stinging pests, Kim is not very tolerant and operates under the motto that if one can of toxic spray is good, two are better.

Beyond Kim’s one-woman crusade against hornets, our grill has been on its last legs for a while. I admit I have been eyeing up potential replacements, becoming seduced by the sweeping curves and impressively sized grates of the newer models. However, the frugal part of me was hoping to milk out another season or maybe just invest in some under the hood work to keep the old reliable grill going.

The grill Kim ended up purchasing is fairly basic. My dreams of owning a wood-pellet fueled Traeger or combination charcoal/gas models with built in smoker will remain just that. For the amount of actual grilling we do, the more basic model will work just fine and just as long as I don’t overcook her brats Kim will be happy. That last part is most important.

I really hope that Kim likes the cordless power tools I am planning to get her for her “Mother’s Day” presents on Father’s Day weekend.

The problem with getting a new grill, beyond needing to dispose of the old one, is that it causes you to examine your grilling space. In this case, I am looking at the deck area. We fight an ongoing battle with weeds climbing up between the deck boards and shrubs that have not weathered the past few winters very well.

It seems like putting a shiny new grill on the existing space would be like putting new chrome rims on a 20 year old beater truck.

My wife has recognized this too and has come up with a list of projects including the removal of the evergreen shrubs and the purging of all plants in the flower beds in front of our house so that she can get a fresh start.

I once spent the better part of a summer attempting to remove an overgrown English yew shrub from outside my grandmother’s front window. Not having access to heavy equipment I chopped down to the base and attempted to dig it out by hand. This did not go well and eventually we settled on cutting it down well below grade with the hope that it would die and not come back. While far from being as massive as my grandmother’s, the shrubs in front of my house will likely pose a challenge. Ideally, I would just give the task to my son, Alex. After all, what are hulking teenaged boys good for, if not to do heavy yard projects. That said, as someone who believes in the adage of working smarter, not harder, in rural Wisconsin it is easier to find someone with the right piece of power equipment to dig up the shrubs than it is in suburban New Jersey.

With the shrubbery living on borrowed time, this has Kim seriously considering options for replacing the wooden deck with a concrete patio hoping it would require less maintenance in the long-run.

For now, my new grill is still sitting in its box waiting to be put together as we generate an ever-growing list of yard projects that is unlikely to get completed before the snow begins to fly. That is the thing about spring, though, it encourages you to make plans and dream big dreams filled with hope and promise.

If you give your spouse a grill, be prepared for the yard work that will come with it.

Brian Wilson is News Editor at The Star News.