Hey! Spring is here! Unless you’ve been under a rock, perhaps you’ve noticed the weather is marvelous. The Sun is marvelous. Your gardens are going to be marvelous. And you yourself are marvelous. Why wouldn’t you be? You’re currently reading a blog all about doing good things for planet earth, and thus, for yourself, and your community. Thus, everyone loves you. And everyone loves a lover, right? And you love gardening. So there. Life can be great when you are a gardener. The more we move around and improve our area and ourselves, the whole world has a better chance at being a pretty cool place.
Part of improving your area, whether your own property or your community, (or someone else’s) is in cleaning away winter’s debris, downed branches, last fall’s leaves, and don’t forget, enjoying all the spring flowers that are showing up to grace your life with their presence.
At the time of this posting, tender daffodils have already made an appearance, and tulips will soon be here, if not here already. These beauties will stick around and decorate our lives with their beautiful scent and color as long as temps stay cool. They are delicate as well as tough. They survived winter, didn’t they? Once regular blasts of heat occur, they will fade away, to be replaced with later erupting blossoms of flowers and riots of tree blossoms.
And yes, as you walk around and inspect your kingdom and inspect for changes good and bad, in flower box or yard or mailbox plantings, you prowl with the eye of a tiger, and the muscles of a highly trained athlete. What, you say? Well, it’s true. We weed our prized pots of soil on patios, spading or plowing gardens and fields, mow our yards or oil our tractors or lug out tools and heavy bags of things and all manner of equipment and checking everything out. We all wear the universally recognized team colors of dirt and sweat. Isn’t it awesome? Don’t your muscles ache with happiness? Aren’t you going to sleep like a log tonight? Yes, yes you are! Pat yourself on the back, you are doing a great job of making the earth a more beautiful and healthier place. And while you do it, make sure you look after your health. You are important, too. Drink a lot of water. Eat something healthy. Do not make yourself regret gardening. You will want to return to it, again and again. It’s the very best, highly addictive behavior known to humankind.
The race to grow and improve is on, and the other contestants in this frenzy of nature are your neighbors and indeed, the entire world, where winters’ hibernatory grip on our emotional and physical life is over and the pent-up desire to get out and improve takes over like some insanely high speed manic garden episode of the Martha Stewart show, on crack. I’m serious about not overdoing it. Not everything needs to be done in one day! Indeed, patience is a far more valuable tool in the gardener’s experience, than any physical attribute, or expensive tool. Tall trees didn’t get that way overnight, you know, and you yourself will tower over all other gardeners with your knowledge like a mighty oak of wisdom. I love writing this blog, when else do you get to use a sentence like that?
All this increased physical activity is great as a workout, and it is very possible, even probable that you will invite muscle strain or overexertion will become an unwelcome part of your life. Except for shoveling snow, we have been pretty physically sedentary throughout the long winter months, unless you work out in a gym. One of the other dangers you must be mindful of are to all the mindlessly twittering birds at large, presently dive bombing your head in their springtime pursuits of each other. I’m serious. They don’t often smack into us clumsy, blissful gardening humans, but its been known to happen. Wear a hat. You might need to use your brains one day.
Once outside in warm air perfumed with the scents of spring, I predict you will cast an experienced eye upon your trusty rake and loudly and happily announce, arms thrown wide, that today, yes today of all days, YOU WILL RAKE. Yes, you are indeed going to rake. You stand with unshakable conviction with your steady feet and firmly plant your rake on the ground like a brave explorer in a new land, with hips and feet and shoulders flung wide and declare loudly, with spirit, TODAY I RAKE! You will feel wonderful saying this. Your good neighbors will hear you and scratch their heads, and wisely not judge you or ask anything other than “You doing ok over there?” because they are after all, for the most part, good neighbors. It is reassuring that they show concern for your mental state, because after all, you are running around in a frenzy with numerous sharp objects. Remember this. Take the spring season in stride. Don’t go insane, or be insane. You can’t possibly do everything at once. Many hands make light work so don’t suffer from an invincibility disorder and think you can do everything by yourself. You can’t, nor should you, nor is it safe for certain projects. And by all means, even though your plate is full of chores, offer to help your good neighbors with their own work . Perhaps you can do some things, that physically, they can’t. Maybe you can reach under a low bush to drag out some blown plastic bags for them. I hate those things, they get stuck in branches and you must be patient in removing them so they don’t break off branches. Try to make efforts to recycle as much trash you discover. And keep in mind to be patient and listen to others if they make suggestions about a different way of doing things, they generally know what they are talking about. If you’re not careful, you might actually learn more then one way of doing things. It’s as important to offer help, as it is to receive it. Giving and getting both feel good.
As you work, mounds of organic debris will cower before you and fall in line throughout your muscular, tool-happy mastery of all you survey. You feel like a conqueror of a new land, and indeed, you actually are. It’s been months since you were outside and many discoveries will be made. Plants are bursting up everywhere. Garbage has blown in, tree limbs have died. Rabbits have taken up residence in flower patches and you may choose to be gentle with your new hop-happy neighbors, or evict them. Those leaves from last fall that you so lovingly mounded on your patches of flowers that now stand as colorful sentinels before your door need to be cleared away. You are going to rake them out of there and notice their faint scent of decay. It’s a very good aroma, and means that things are doing what they are supposed to do.
But first, let’s use the gentle approach. There will be lots of bending and scooping and reaching and that’s all good for you, as long as you don’t overdo it. Reach down, or squat on your knees if you can, or employ the good services of some energetic youngster who could use some direction and guidance in their lives. Reach right in there into the garden beds, and using fingers or the gentle probing of a hand or pole rake, get the leaves out from around the plants that you know to be in there. Others will be making an appearance soon with the warmer temps sticking around on a dependable basis. Clear all those wonderfully crunchy, sweet smelling leaves out of there. Move them onto a tarp, or scoop them into a bag, or lift and scoop them into a wheelbarrow, and move all that lovely stuff into a compost pile, if you have one. If you don’t have a compost build one. If that isn’t an option, just moving around these former leaves/present mush/ future fertilizer is helpful. There will be worms in this leafy layer. When you find them, you should consider yourself lucky. Worms are your friend. Leave them where you find them. Tell them they are beautiful, they need to hear that once in a while. Don’t make screamy little girl noises, they hate that. Worms make the world beautiful, but aren’t generally considered beautiful themselves, unless a fisherman digs them out of a bucket of other worms and impales their tiny wriggly bodies onto the cold metal of a fishing hook and says “What a beauty! I’m surely going to catch a marlin here in Lake Redman today! Hope there’s room in the freezer!” So there. Maybe a lot of worms aspire to have a second job as a fisherman, or be an engineer of a train, or an accountant. I don’t know these things. I have never mind-melded with a worm. However, we have a shared love of gardening. I think my worms are pretty happy. We both dig around in the dirt and think plants are cool and like getting covered in dirt. Come to think of it, maybe I HAVE mind-melded with worms. That makes me lucky.
Thoughts like these are in my head sometimes as I perform often tedious, often repetitive chores. You must always try to be high-spirited and driven while doing yard work, that energy will carry you through hard labor that can be uninteresting and painful. But you can do it, you know why? Because you’re awesome. There, it’s in print for all to see, so it must be true. Now go forth, brave gardeners, and clean and plant the world.
Next Blog- Why volunteering is sexy.