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Thoughts of Spring

By Maggie Turner


Saturday, Febuary 26, 2000

Thoughts of Spring

 

For the first time in weeks and weeks, I did not need to wear heavy boots on my walk. It felt wonderful this morning to throw on my coat, slip my feet quickly into a pair of walking shoes and head out the door. When the cold weather first arrives, all I think about is how to stay warm; I do not even notice the inconvenience of donning layers of heavy clothing. For the duration of the cold weather, I do not notice the bother of bundling up to go outdoors. However, as the cold weather progresses I am increasingly reluctant to venture out of doors. Finally, by the end of February I have evolved into a recluse. Then the warmer weather arrives, sidewalks clear and suddenly movement beyond the front door becomes effortless. It is safe to notice the sweet release.

Our backyard is an urban wildlife preserve; there is a ravine behind our house. Yesterday, as I stood quietly on the back deck, I observed geese, a rabbit, squirrels, and a variety of birds. There was also evidence of the activities of raccoons. The groundhogs and skunks do not appear to be active yet, but will be in a matter of weeks.

Now that the milder weather is just around the corner my thoughts are turning to the garden. I have been looking through seed catalogues, imagining what might grow happily where in our small yard. The backyard is tiny and dominated by trees; this limits what we can grow successfully. Last year I spent a lot of time researching what plants grow well beneath trees with partial to little light. I then purchased seeds and started the plants indoors. The next step was to transplant the seedlings to the garden, water and care for them.

I was wasting my time. The animals ate every last seedling to the ground. Some of the small plants rallied and sent forth a second growth. The animals ate the second growth to the ground. Every seedling I planted was destroyed. The seeds I planted in the ground fared no better; they were all eaten to the ground as soon as they were a few inches tall. I ended up with a lot of bare ground.

I have a few plants in the backyard that were planted as large plants from the nursery or came from the "wild". We have planted Hosta Lilies, Lily of the Valley, Bleeding Heart, Periwinkle and English Primroses. The tomato and pepper plants survived the carnage as well and even bore fruit. We even harvested some of the tomatoes. The strawberry plants we planted several years ago do well but the squirrels eat the fruit as it ripens. To my delight, a wild blackberry suddenly grew up in the strawberry patch two years ago. It has taken over the area and bears fruit on extremely prickly branches. The animals do not like the thorns so the fruit ripens; last summer I harvested enough blackberries to make jam. Picking the blackberries is a challenge; I wear long sleeves, long pants, and boots. Even so, scratches are unavoidable.

Today was so mild that we had the windows open for a while; it was over 20 degrees Centigrade. I am enjoying the fresh air and thoughts of growth and green. There will be more snow here; soon my parka will be needed again before venturing out of doors. However, whatever the weather, spring is on the way!


 

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