Jason Graves mug

Jason Graves

Spring in East Texas always announces its arrival with an annual tree-pollen allergy apocalypse, followed by our own version of monsoon season, when most residents consider trading in their pickups for four-wheel drive dinghies. All of the rain and foliage-philandering gives rise to the need for some serious yard work, which many of us look forward to with the same anticipation we feel when it's time to visit Dr. Auger for a thorough colonoscopy.

Below are a few steps that will ensure your yard will be pristine and inviting to the neighborhood canine population looking for a place to mark their territory – including the area between your bare toes when you walk out to get the mail.

Step 1: Wear proper attire

While working in the yard, it's important to wear protective clothing, and by "protective," I mean something that will keep you from scandalizing the neighbors when you bend over repeatedly to pull the cord on your mower. Since I can't seem to work in jeans that don't take a trip to Plumbersville after about 30 minutes, this year, I visited Walmart to invest in a pair of overalls – and while I was there, some lunch meat and toilet cleanser. It had been a while since I had worn overalls (40 years to be exact), and when I clipped on that second shoulder strap, I suddenly felt compelled to chew some tobacco and plant 40 acres of sorghum… whatever that is.

Step 2: Go to Lowe's – again

Once properly dressed, the domestic yard work person should proceed to a local home and garden center to purchase supplies, which may include mulch, enriched topsoil, peat moss and other products that will make your yard smell like a feed lot. Be prepared to make several return trips to the garden center because you will continually fail to purchase enough mulch, enriched topsoil and peat moss due to the fact that many of these products are measured in cubic feet. I don't remember learning about cubic feet in Coach Nickerson's 10th-grade geometry class, but, then again, I spent most of my time trying to identify the righteous perfume of the totally bodacious babe seated directly in front of me. (Calvin Klein didn't name it Obsession for nothin'. )

Step 3: Seek first aid treatment

Regardless of how careful you try to be, yard work will inevitably result in injury (often to your feelings). This year, my pain and suffering resulted from an attempt to groom two large poolside palm tree thingies we planted a few years ago when we were trying to turn our back yard into a tropical paradise – and wound up with what looks more like a wilderness location for "Naked and Afraid." I'm not certain what type of palm tree thingies we have, but I'm pretty sure they are of the species painin debuttis, featuring spikes, blades and other pointy appendages intent on testing my manly resistance to openly sobbing. (OK, so I ugly-cried a few times, but there was blood.)

Step 4: Prepare for interruptions

The domestic yard work person should anticipate interruptions at any moment, especially if he or she has children. My first interruption this year came just as I was hitting my yard work stride – sitting in the shade and playing with Snapchat filters. (Have you seen the one that looks like you have French fries up your nose? Hilarious.) I received an urgent call from one of my daughters, who was having some kind of after-school four-alarm sports bra emergency and needed me to bring her favorite one immediately, which is the only time frame in which my three daughters operate. When I arrived at the school, she met me at my car, and – apparently horrified by my new overalls – begged me not to get out, lest her friends see me and we all have to move to Bangladesh.

Ultimately, yard work can be truly fulfilling. The fresh air, sunshine and occasional profuse bleeding really gets a person in touch with nature – even a consummate indoorsman like me.

Just remember to wear close-toed shoes, especially when you walk out to get the mail.

Jase Graves is an award-winning humor columnist from East Texas. His columns have been featured in Texas Escapes magazine, The Shreveport Times, The Longview News Journal and The Kilgore News Herald. Contact Graves at susanjase@sbcglobal.net.