Rule #15 – Write your observations.
At the risk of perpetuating stereotypes, Nature is really a female, since Mother Nature has tantrums (storms), peaceful times (high pressure and sunny days), cycles (seasons), and hot flashes (mid-anything heat waves). And on top of all of this, her moods change in an instant. At least, they do where I live.
Last Tuesday, at 1:14 am, astrological spring arrived. She crept in quietly on an unusually warm night. I was there; because of my dog… he had to go out just at the spring-arrival moment. How did he know to do that? So, at 1:14 am, I am standing outside listening to the silence of the middle of the night. I thought, “Welcome, spring…. Officially!”
You see, the East Coast just finished with the winter that wasn’t. Very little snow fell, much to the chagrin of all school kids. That is, at least in our area. Since the beginning of February, we experienced intermittent winter and summer weather. It would be cold, and then get really warm, then back to cold again. The colder days were rainy, chilly – you know that kind of raw chill that goes right to your bones. The warmer days were almost summer-like with heat. But you knew it was still February-March when the sun went down and things chilled up. Several seasons in a day – think Ma Nature was PMS-ing?
Mother Nature’s mid-winter hot flashes brought the trees and flowers out early. Redbuds and Bradford Pears were all in flower in mid-March. Sakura and other flowering cherry and plum trees bloomed earlier than DC’s Cherry Blossom Festival anticipated. Daffodils sprouted and flowered, hyacinths bloomed early and tulips are up and blooming now this last week of March. Normally, these bloom events don’t happen until April.
While all this makes for a beautiful mental picture, there is a downside to all this. Those of us with allergies are medicating earlier than expected. The hot-cold weather transitions have all the little rhino-viruses going crazy inside little kids and tired adults. It’s times like this that I do not miss being packed like a sardine in a small space with 30-40 middle school kids.
Another downside is surveying winter damage outside. We may not have gotten a lot of snow. But wind was a frequent visitor (everyone needs to blow off steam sometime). Since I live on a tree-filled lot, I now have a lot of fire wood thanks to the wind events. It’s also time to see what comes back in the spring. You never know what plants are going to make it to the next spring. You never know what bugs were killed off. You never know what tiny livestock might have burrowed its way into your lawn and garden.
Well, spring inventory is complete. We have lots of fresh firewood and some of it doesn’t have to be chain-sawed up. I found more mole-holes than I can count and I’m hoping a black snake might have moved into one or two of them. Chrysanthemums must have been annuals after all, since I don’t see any new sprouts. Peas are sprouted and in the veggie bed. Back flower beds are cleaned out of dead leaves. Front flower beds are in process of being cleaned out. Liriope is hornier than ever, spreading and getting thick. It’s a great edging plant but it just loves one of my front beds. Guess I should pull a bunch of it out. English ivy needs a cut down, before it takes over its little corner of the shaded part of my yard. Bees are buzzing, stinkbugs are back (darn!), and mosquitoes are starting to hang out again. At times like this, I think, who needs a gym membership? Yard work is an aerobic activity and is something handy, free, and actually saves you money. And it reduces stress!
Are we done with yard work yet? Not hardly! I still have to trim the ivy, like I said before, clean out one more azalea bed, pull ivy off the tree trunks and from around the bases, get rid of some of the liriope, dig up some of the sticker vines in the back, trim some of the understory of the trees in the back of the yard… and the list continues. Am I worried it won’t get done? Not hardly!
You see, gardening actually helps me, mentally and physically. I got into gardening big time when I was teaching. My career started with high school Home Economics and ended with middle school Family and Consumer Sciences (Home Ec with a classier name). I really did enjoy teaching the kids and loved the teen kids (well, someone has to). But they (and their parents) did get on my nerves more than occasionally. My choice was to dead-head flowers or dead-head kids. Hmmm…. Which one wouldn’t land me in jail? Flowers won.
Yes, I’ve got “the fever” – spring fever! Big time! I can’t wait to start putting flowers in. Got to get more seeds going!
But, Ma Nature, you always have the last say at this time of the year. So what’s with a freeze warning tonight? Come on, Ma! More PMS? Make up your mind!
Oh, and (ouch) where did I hide the Ben-Gay?