You think you know what you are getting into before you get into it, but until you actually do, you don't really know what you are in for.
If this sentence doesn't make sense to you, you have never been the new owner of an old house.
There is never a good time to be the new owner of an old house, but the worst time is in the spring when you are not only the new owner of an old house, but the new groundskeeper of an old yard.
Which brings me to the stump.
When you put a foot to a shovel, there are two sounds you don't want to hear: the scraping of metal meeting rock, and the subterranean thud of shovel striking root.
The stump, a stealth stump as it turned out, was hidden beneath three or four inches of soil and did not seem particularly ominous at first. It was right next to the porch, how big could it be?
In retrospect, this is not a good question to ask when you are dealing with a stump.
Fifteen minutes of digging revealed the stump to be the juncture of three small trees and as big around as — I want to say a redwood — but Newt Gingrich is probably closer.
As a general rule, you need three things to take out a stump.
A chiropractor (on speed dial).
You resume digging.
The thing about digging is that digging begets more digging, and the longer the begetting goes on the harder it is to stop. More than one in-ground pool owes its origins to this syndrome.
At some point the stump finally moves. This produces a tremendous rush of excitement during which you break the shovel while standing on the handle attempting to gain a little more leverage. Two rakes and a softball bat meet a similar end.
You come back from the store with a new shovel, along with a pry bar, hatchet and roll of duct tape. Whenever an opportunity presents itself to buy a new tool, the code of the weekend warrior mandates that it be seized. The same, it goes without saying, applies to duct tape.
Anyway, after hours of digging, and prying and chopping and saying bad words, the stump is finally freed from its root system. Now all you have to do is get it out of the hole.
This is where the chiropractor on speed dial usually comes in.