The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and although the branches on the trees are moving a bit at least the wind chimes right outside my window are no longer wildly clanging as they had done for the past two days. Dare I hope that spring might actually be coming back again?
April is sometimes known as the cruelest month and with good reason. This year it has been like Lucy with the football, holding the promise of springtime with a day or two of shirtsleeve weather only to yank it away just when I thought it might truly last, replacing it instead with galeforce winds and plummeting temperatures that turn the birdbaths into mini ice rinks. And I, just like poor old Charlie Brown, just keep getting suckered in, hoping maybe this time the warm weather might last and spring might really be here.
In a burst of optimism on a warm, spring-like day a couple weeks ago, I bought two boxes of pansies to plant by the front door and a small pot of coral bells for the shade garden behind the garage, only to have to relegate them to the sunroom when outdoor temperatures dropped.
Then this past Tuesday, when the mercury climbed into the 60s, I jumped into my work clothes (old paint-stained jeans, ratty T-shirt, grass-stained clogs and a baseball cap) and got to work. I pulled the lawn cart out of the shed, and grabbed the shovel from the garage. I found an old flower pot and filled it with compost from behind the shed where I had been tossing yard waste for years, mixed it with soil from the hole I had dug in the shade garden, and put the new coral bells in the ground. Then I planted the pansies along the front walk, attached the garden hose to the newly turned on spigot under the bathroom window and gave them a good watering, hosing out and filling the birdbath while I was at it.
Energized by the warmth of the sun on my back I really got to work.
I dug dandelions and plantains out from one side of the lawn, filling my lawn cart to the brim and hauling it all to a new composting corner behind the shed.
Then I went to work on the herb garden, digging out Glory of the Snow flowers that had invaded the area, trimming deadwood from the old sage plant, and pulling an assortment of other weeds and debris from around the thyme, oregano, tarragon, chives, and tiny little parsley plants that had wintered over from last year.
Out of shape after losing all of last year to back problems and then essentially doing nothing but reading and puzzles all winter, my muscles aren’t what they used to be, so one hour of yard work had me ready to quit for the day. Next day, however, with temperatures even slightly higher, I was back out there again, this time working my way around to the patch of irises adjacent to the herb garden, digging out more dandelions and plucking grass from among the tightly packed iris leaves.
Then I lost my mind and began edging the bed.
For the uninitiated among you, edging is cutting a neat, crisp, clean border (kind of a shallow trench) around beds and borders, not only making it look good, but also forestalling the grass from encroaching back into the cleared area. It is back-breaking work, not only in the cutting along with a shovel, but in then pulling up whatever grass and weeds were trespassing, shaking the soil out from the clumps, and tossing them into the wagon for removal. I succeeded in clearing it along the driveway, then along its entire front edge and around the far side of the irises, about 25 or 30 feet before regaining my sanity and quitting.
It was at that point that I phoned my sister Bev and said something to the effect of, “Stop me before I dig any more!” and asked if she “might be receiving,” code for can I come over to play cards.
“Should I have coffee ready?” she questioned.
“Oh, yeah,” I replied, and I jumped in the tub for a quick bath, pulled on clean clothes, and abandoning the wagon full of yard waste to be emptied later that afternoon when I had more energy to deal with it, I got in the car and went off to play cards for a while.
Two or three games of Hand-and-Foot (a form of Canasta) later, and fully refreshed, I decided to head home, only to find that the temperature had plummeted, the wind had picked up, and raindrops were just starting to fall.
As we speak, although the rain has stopped it is still really cold out, the wagon full of yard waste ... and now also full of water ... still sits next to the garage where it will have to stay at least until tomorrow when warmer weather may once again return, giving me a guilt-free day to fritter away indoors.
I’m thinking it might be a good day to “be receiving” here ... drinking coffee, playing cards with Bev and Marcel, and doing some kind of take-out for lunch.
I will recharge my batteries and gird my loins in preparation for another day of yard work on Saturday before Lucy whips the football away and spring goes to hell in a handbasket again.
Rhea Bouchard Powers is a writer from Cumberland.