March 18, 2010
Spring makes me salivate. Today was what you might term a scouting expedition. The snow is gone. It’s time to survey the terrain. It’s exciting to see daffodils, tulips, crocuses, and hyacinths poking up through the dirt. A newcomer that I planted late last summer, snowball rock cress, actually has a few tiny white blooms. Now that I have gardened for a few years, I know what to anticipate … pink redbud blossoms and white pear blossoms first, and then the bubblegum pink weeping cherry blossoms in late April. I find my excitement wholly ridiculous. This is nothing new. It happens every year. And yet every year as the garden expands, and as I become more intentional in what I am trying to achieve in terms of design and colour and texture, the thrill becomes even more palpable.
Of course, after indulging in the delight of spotting new growth, I immediately recognize the work I have ahead of me. The gardens are full of leaves and debris. The lawn is littered with twigs. There is raking ahead. There is also a lot of digging and shovelling. Last year Mark and I created a large bed on the west side of the property, lined with cedars for an eventual hedge. That bed needs to be turned over and filled with shrubs and plants. There is also a huge pile of triple mix that I need to spread around.
The work is part of the enjoyment, though. I do it at a laughably slow pace, taking as many breaks as my old bones demand. I sit at the patio table, look at garden magazines, and plan what I will buy. There are a myriad of choices. I am hoping for azaleas, rhododendrons, dogwood, and maybe a Japanese maple. Never mind that I have tried to grow Japanese maples three times and they have all died. In the spring anything seems possible.
The juncos have come and gone. Their visit is always just a brief pause on their way further north. With their beady black eyes and flashing white undersides, these sporty compact grey birds zip around the yard in a companionable layover for a few days and then, poof, they are gone. Other birds are back, too. The mourning doves have been around for quite a while, and the grackles. I watched a pair of grackles grapple with some long bits of blue oat grass. It was comical to see them grab several stems in their beaks and wrestle around with them. I wanted to coach them: “Just one per customer, one per customer, please.” Two days ago I finally noticed robins in my backyard. I haven’t seen any blue jays yet, but they will be here soon, asserting their dominance. I had the momentary joy of watching tundra swans fly overhead because their grating metallic honking made me look up. On my walk yesterday I heard a pair of cardinals whistling and chirping at one another. I spied them both. The male was easy to see, high up in a bare tree, and the female was perched quite close to me in a huge spruce. And so begins another chapter in the saga of Cathy and the birds. They paralyze me with fright practically every day, but they also make the backyard a lively and entertaining theatre. Without even trying, I’ve learned to recognize many of their calls, and absorbed a considerable awareness of their daily patterns. They animate my garden.
Tune in again to see what’s up in the garden. 🙂