I didn't always love my car. Even as a teenager I was never wild about driving, and spending most of my adult life car-less in New York City only made things worse. Consequently, when we moved to North Carolina in 2005, the thought of getting behind the wheel again was positively horrifying. Alas, you need a car to do just about anything here. Ron, the master of Tough Love, was determined to make me as independent as I had been in New York City. So he bought me this car, with the crazy idea that I should drive it.
Week after week, month after month, Ron sat in the passenger seat while I did terrifying things like get on the highway at rush hour and drive to and from the airport. Trust me when I say that re-learning to drive in your 40s, when you have actually figured out that yes, you are going to die some day, is quite different from learning to drive when you are 16 and the possibility has never entered your mind. Exhibit A, pictured below: my steering wheel. I haven't been chewing it. I've been holding on for dear life.
But let's not dwell on past neuroses. In the intervening years, I conquered this particular fear (mostly), threw myself into gardening, and in doing so came to appreciate just how fabulous a cheap four-door sedan can be.
You wouldn't think it to look at it, but this unassuming hunk of metal holds 13 bags of soil in the trunk and another 9 in the back seat, provided you know the magic loading formula. If you push the front seats forward as far as they will go, you can fit a pair of 3-gallon shrubs on the floor behind them. You can also ram a young tree into the back seat if you turn the pot on its side and open the windows.
Then there's the really heavy stuff, the kind that would send normal people over to Home Depot's Rent-A-Truck. My little Elantra has hauled a patio's worth of bluestone, assorted concrete statues, and the 8-foot cedar rails for our backyard fence (put the back seat down, open the trunk, shove the rails in, and drive very, very slowly). Even that most annoying rite of spring, the annual lawnmower tune-up, is a piece of cake with this car. Yes, we do squeeze the lawnmower into the trunk. Granted, the top doesn't close, but as long as we tie it with some string, the lawnmower stays put and we don't get a ticket. Win-win.
So let's hear it for my Hyundai Elantra pickup. Next month my car and I celebrate our 9th anniversary, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. It's not a fancy car. It's not a cool car. But it's an incredibly tough car. Best of all, it's the kind of car that you don't mind getting filthy. Which is good, because the spring gardening season is here.