March 30, 2010
“Tantarrara! The joyous Book of Spring
Lies open, writ in blossoms.”
– William Allingham, 1824-1889, from “Daffodil”
I worked three hours in the garden today without serious incident. A weeping caragana twig did almost take out my eye, slipping underneath the lens of my glasses, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t intentional. My time was productive – cutting down grasses and perennials, raking up dead leaves, picking up twigs, and doing some pruning. I pruned my Rheingold cedars back hard, one of my regular early spring tasks. I love trimming last year’s brownish mop and discovering the fresh emerald green needles underneath. The new growth will sprout citrusy green and sparkle in the spring sunlight. I did have a slight moment of panic when I noticed some baby-sized downy blue feathers amongst the needles, but, thankfully, there was no dead bird hiding under the shrub.
Other plants were peeking up playfully through the soil as I removed the debris. Spring anemones, blue clips campanula, and a bunch of weeds. Yup, I was already pulling up weeds today. Quite a few maple keys had also germinated, so I dug them out as well. Tiny tight leaves were timidly unfurling their bits of red on my flame spireas, and darker burgundy leaves were similarly edging out on my twiggy black elderberry bush.
I had to quit after three hours because I was hurting. Hurting? you sneer to yourself…after only three hours? What is she … some kind of wimpy, girly gardener? Well, yes, exactly. Really no point in denying it. After three hours my neck and shoulders hurt from the pruning and my glutes were groaning from bending. Plus, in my excitement to get outside and get gardening, I had forgotten to put on sunscreen. My nose was turning red. It has a long-standing, shamefully promiscuous “come hither” relationship with the sun.
Today’s lesson is on the value of gloves. I have a great pair of leather gloves that fit my hands perfectly. They are safely sequestered in the house when not in use. I never store them in the garden shed lest any spiders or other bugs take up residence in them. Here is a list of the things I would have touched with my bare hands today had I not worn gloves: a mummified green grasshopper with glassy eyes, a dessicated white caterpillar grotesquely curled up in a fetal position, three hollow fuzzy white cocoons, and four glistening worms. And that’s only what I could see. Who knows what disturbing varieties of creaturely excrement lurked beneath the slimy and matted foliage? Gloves are a girly gardener’s best friend.