March 16, 2013
We’ve had a lovely week here in Springfield – especially the last two days, which were sunny with temperatures at around seventy on Thursday and near eighty on Friday. So, true to my word last week, I hustled out to the yard with work gloves and trash bag in hand.
On Thursday, I collected trash in the backyard – a slow and somewhat arduous task since I found that over winter I had definitely gotten older, though not lazier so much as slower. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the exercise and the weather and felt much the better for both. Afterward, I checked the garden – especially the section where I planted my little potato onion bulbs last November. I was delighted to find them poking up through the partially digested leaves. After tucking them back under the rest of the leaves, (it’s going to be the more normal high forties to mid fifties this coming week, with nighttime temperatures near or below freezing, again,) I checked to see if, by chance, the asparagus had poked up anywhere. It hadn’t; nor had the poor rhubarb plant. So, I may see if I can find another rhubarb when I go shopping next month. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to have two planted out there if that first one decides to come back to life. And, I put up my cast iron pole, with its basket hook, right at the edge of the garden fence – partly to fasten a sagging length of the fence to, and partly to try growing (once again) a basket of strawberries, later this spring.
Yesterday, I took the gloves and trash bag out to the front yard to work. That went much faster than the backyard, since there is no fence and much of the trash I’d watched accumulate through the winter, had moved on up the street in the breezes of the last few weeks. Living next door to a convenience store, with clients who are entirely too careless about missing the trashcan sitting outside the doors, I anticipate new rounds of trash will sweep through my yard over the coming months. (I’ve come to think of the continuous process as just another form of steady exercise and, therefore, probably good for me over the long run.)
And when I’d finished, I took a slow walk-through of both the front and north side for any “surprises”. None yet, although it’s early, with the morning sun still tending across the south. The maple tree at the front of the property is budding, though the poplar across the front walk from it is not. The mulberry trees on the north and the little Japanese maple by the porch still appear to be asleep, too. No pokeweed is poking up yet – on the north side of the house or along the back fence – and no doubt, most of the other weeds are waiting for me to disturb the soil out in the garden. I did notice, yesterday, the henbit has begun its annual run across the back yard toward the morning sun, followed by what appears to be a thin line of creeping Charlie, ready to take over when the henbit is spent, next month. Violets, dandelions and clover will follow those as spring progresses and turns toward summer. I did see one stalwart old dandelion that had already turned to seed. All of these, of course, have edible parts that can be used in salads or as greens, so I learn patience as well as attentiveness in my rounds.
This afternoon, after I have posted, my son will be here to take me manure shopping. I hope the stores are putting out bags of the stuff in their outdoor sections. I need at least one bag to get the early garden section started and three, if I’m going to cover the other two beds. With all the gardeners around here, the big bags disappear quite rapidly once the stores get them. I need a large bag of potting soil to start my transplants for May planting and a small bag of sand to mix the wild flower seeds into, for scattering, once I get those beds along the front porch hoed. (We’re supposed to have rain tonight and tomorrow, but this cool, coming week will be sunny – perfect, I think, for hoeing and planting those beds.)
So, I am excited, stirred up, eager as a new year of planting and reaping begins. I know I talk a lot about these things, this time of year, but I still believe hard times are ahead – even as (and perhaps, because) the economy shows signs of champing at the bit. And I hope that – if you’ve forgotten, or have never investigated – these little essays will encourage you to seek out the pleasures of gardening and the bounties of nature that wait all around you. After all, if I – pretty much a newbie, seven years ago – can do it, think of the fun you could have.
We will not only need the food they provide, but – as climate change takes its toll on stable weather patterns – we will need the skills of patience and attentiveness that tending to both our gardens and nature’s bounty provides. And, let’s face it. After a winter of being cooped up in the house, we could all use some exercise.