Sure signs of spring

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One of the first signs of spring is a longing for colour. Most anticipated, is the colour green.

This phenomenon is most often noted as many custodians of small front yards suddenly take a new interest in what is lying on the lawns. They are the ones who often wait until the snow on their walks and driveways is nearly a foot deep before shovelling, but are suddenly seen to pick up a shovel and begin removing the snow from those front lawns.

Once that snow is gone, the grass begins to turn green. A spring shower makes it even greener. The shoveller is happy.

There is an urge to bring colour and greenery into homes and apartments. The local stores are fostering one of the newest home hobbies – the nurturing of houseplants. The plants with blooms are the most favoured at this time of year. A healthy green plant with a colourful bloom makes the hobbyist happy.

Along with their houseplants, people begin to think of outdoor gardening. They’re off to shop for packets of seeds. Soon, shelves, kitchen counters and window sills are lined with egg cartons and trays of germinating seeds. The seeds hopefully, will produce everything from giant sun flowers to broccoli. As the kernels of hope begin to sprout, each tiny green shoot popping from their bed of soil in the confines of an egg carton brings feelings of accomplishment to the grower. The grower has done nothing but add water and it is nature itself that has brought life to the seed, yet there is happiness to be had.

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The home gardener dreams of being food secure. If nothing else, the past year of the COVID pandemic has taught us that in order to enjoy melons, avocadoes, tomatoes and lettuce, we are dependent upon transportation from far away countries. We become aware of greenhouse gases and climate change. The new home gardener resolves to do their part.

But those new seedlings need to be planted, followed by the realization that much still has to be done. Will it be flowers only in the front yard and vegetables in the back? How big will the garden be? Another trip to the hardware/garden store follows. Giant bags of topsoil and peat moss, plus fertilizer, hose, hose reel, shovels and rakes are bought. The soil must be worked. Back to the store for stakes to mark the rows. Oops, we forgot string so that the rows will be straight. The eager gardener discovers that although it feels invigorating to be outdoors, the soil is still frozen. It’s still April and it snows. Panic sets in. The seedlings are getting higher and need to be planted soon.

What looked like an hour’s task to dig the ground soon becomes a three-day job. Your back aches but those seedlings will not wait. So you plant them – after buying a watering can and plastic stakes on which you can write the name of the seedlings. For a week you check on their growth and dream of eating your own beans and potatoes. The trellis you bought for the climbing vines of peas will not stay upright, so you bought more stakes and brackets to secure it to a fence. Then without warning, there was an overnight frost. All those seedlings, with the exception of a few pansies, have died. You learned you started the seeds and planted them outdoors far too soon.

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What was it your grandmother once said? “Wait until the first full moon in June before planting.” Oh well, there’s always the pop-up gardening stores annexed to your hardware or grocery store where healthy plants can be bought. You rake out the dead seedlings and loosen the soil once more. Your back, knees and arms are telling you that you have muscles and joints you haven’t used in years and they all hurt.

It’s now mid-June. The bedding plants you bought at great expense are thriving and you stand there one beautiful morning and have a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. That moment of sheer bliss fades quickly when you turn and look at your front lawn. You recall last March when you removed the snow so that it would turn green. Now the lawn is green and needs to be mowed, but you forgot the lawnmower died last summer and must be replaced. You return to the gardening store and by now they know you so well, they greet you by name.

As you pay for the new lawn mower, you mentally calculate what you’ve spent since last March and ask yourself, “What was I thinking?”

That’s my view from Over the Hill.

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