Spring is here!

Ok, so maybe that’s a bit early. Let me live in my fantasy.

The days have turned warm, in the 50s and sunny, while the nights hover near the brisk freezing mark. I’ve been seeing numerous honey bees already, although there is nothing blooming for them yet. The telltale Robins have been in the yard, and you can hear the songs of the birds in the early morning when I go out to pickup the newspaper from the driveway.

The other day I spent an hour or so planting seeds in starter pots. Each pot was labeled with a popsicle stick bearing the seed’s name. They will sit in the sunny south windows of our shop until they are large enough to go into my little makeshift greenhouse outside. It’s not heated, but by then, what I have should be enough protection from the cooler nights. It was a relaxing time, reviewing our garden plan, what to plant and where. I never realized how scientific gardening was. You can’t plant broccoli next to tomatoes. Corn, beans and squash are beneficial to each other, so plant them together. I figure once I have a plan all charted out for this year, I will use the same chart each year and just rotate the whole thing through the different planter boxes I have. That way the tomatoes won’t go into the box the potatoes were in for a couple years. Now I just need to remember to water them, but not too much.

With our shop being MOSTLY done (said in the same voice as Billy Crystal’s Miracle Max from the movie Princess Bride), my thoughts and energy have turned to the landscape of our property. The lawn areas were prepped last year, but the rain saturated ground really settled in a few places. We will have to bring in some more dirt to fill in some craters, and then loosen up the top of the dirt just before we hydroseed in mid May. The calendar had to be consulted to find the perfect spray date. We have Passover, the day of Firstfruits, and the feast of Unleavened Bread coming up the last weekend of the month for a week. Then seven weeks later is Pentecost/Shavuot. All of these include large group gatherings in our shop with lots of kids that love to run around in the dirt. We wouldn’t want to try to control that, so we will spray after the early May gathering. There aren’t any other gatherings until Fall. That should give us some cool time to get the seed started before the summer heat hits. Hopefully we will have a decent lawn by the first of July for our family reunion we will be hosting.

I have checked my garlic bed for signs of life, but haven’t seen any yet. I admit, I have been accused, or rather described, as being impatient with my gardening. I know we aren’t supposed to plant outside until there is no snow on our bellweather mountain, but we have a short growing season in this part of the country. I have been known to plant outside and cover my plants with large five gallon water bottles (with the bottoms cut off, and the open top, they make perfect mini greenhouses), and hope for the best.

Our little kittens, who are now grown Tom cats, seem to sense it is spring too. They spend a lot more time staring out the windows in the mornings, in between wrestling and and playing floor hockey with a small, sisal rope ring. The black one is itching to explore the outdoors. I can tell, because he wants to scratch the screens and tried to crawl between the screen and the open window the other morning. The grey tiger is content to sit in the window and enjoy the sights, smells and sounds from the comfort of the indoors.

Spring used to mean a few days for me to get away and join a bunch of twice a year lady friends for scrapbooking at a beautiful local church camp on the lake. This year, with all the virus restrictions, staff cuts and more, the large group is not allowed, and the camp doesn’t have the staff to plan retreats. You can plan your own retreat, but are limited in numbers and have to follow strict virus protocols. That’s a hard pill for me to swallow. So, I opted to join a mid sized group in a hotel nearby. The organizer and I became acquainted last year, and I was graciously invited to join their group. It will be twice the cost of the other retreat due to the hotel room costs, but no restrictions to comply with. It should be a fun time. And, since I am not able to travel to see my daughter yet, I have some extra money set aside. It is usually a relaxing time when I can sit at my computer and really focus on getting pictures made into books. If I am inspired quickly, I can get one book done each day of the retreat. Now I have to decide which books to work on. My own yearly albums (I am finally up to 2012)? An album of photos our daughter sends of their family? A start to finish photo journal of the home building process?

Spring is a happy time for me. A time of excitement and expectation. I hope that spring is filled with joyous expectation and hope for you also.

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A morning walk…

Realizing that I need to take better care of myself, I am trying to get into the habit of a morning walk. For some reason, the weather during the spring is always best first thing in the morning. Although the average person would probably wear a medium weight jacket his morning, I found the wind a bit much for my ears and exposed hands. I put my wool cap on, and covered that with a sweatshirt hoodie. To top it off was my heavy down utility jacket and some gloves. I am sure I gave the joggers I passed, who were in spandex, something to giggle at. And I have to admit, I felt extremely wimpy when I lapped the elderly English woman out for her daily stroll, who was wearing lightweight sweats. Seeing her made me remember the elderly, crippled Asian lady who walked daily around the neighborhood. One leg was in a brace and never bent. She walked slow and deliberately. That ended the day she took a spill near my house. It blessed me to see neighbors trying to help. She didn’t seem injured, and her husband was soon there to pick her up. But it is sad to think that she had to give that up.

When I walk, many times I find myself praying and thanking Yahweh my God for creating such a beautiful world for us to enjoy. One with multiple colors, sounds, smells. I find myself marveling at the birds, the trees, everything. It is amazing to see the different trees getting ready for their big reveal. The Maples had red fuzzy flower clusters at the end of each little branch. They looked like poodle tails. Many of the Oaks were still adorned with the brown, crunchy leaves of last fall, with no evidence of life, yet. One cool trees branches had turned a pale yellow green, and the soon to be leaves looked like thorns along the branches, as opposed to the furry cream buds on the dark wooded tree at the next house. Although I have walked this same path for weeks now, today was the first time I noticed two very tall trees that were still sporting round seed pods at the top. Maybe that’s where the walnuts are coming from that the crows like to drop on our roof to crack open. My favorite tree though, was the small, horribly pruned tree in the middle of a front yard still decorated in the red chili pepper Christmas lights from December.

Another unusual thing I have never noticed in past years was that every so often, the soft stuff between the slabs of sidewalk concrete had been dug our leaving a mess on the path. At first I wondered if kids were being kids, but then I realized that I started seeing it right after our worm rain. I bet that a bird of some sort had been pecking through to get to worms or bugs. That was actually confirmed a few blocks away when I saw a small woodpecker doing that very thing!

Woodpeckers are rare to see in our neighborhood. More common are doves, robins, crows and starlings. Sometimes mockingbirds, which I believe are akin to blue jays. They are spectacular birds to watch. They caw similarly to crows and jays, they are large with dark blue feathers and a wide stripe of white on their wings. I really enjoy when they are all talking one to another. The coping of the doves, the chatter of the robins, the songs of the starlings. Every now and then, a pheasant will chime in too. I hope we will have lots of birds out at our property.

As I walked past a flowering forsythia bush, I remembered that that is my signal to do my first lawn feeding. Maybe if the weather holds today, meaning no rain, I can get that done later today. Along the way were flowering primroses, beautiful pink heather, some bush with dainty little white flowers just beginning to bloom, and the remains of the earliest blooming crocuses.

Halfway through my walk, I was startled to hear the sounds of steps behind me. When I turned back, I was amused to see a sturdy, dead leaf from autumn skipping up behind me on the breeze.

There were also an abundance of flags flapping in the breeze this morning. Several American flags floated proudly, one simple black flag with the words US Army, a tattered yellow flag with a coiled rattle snake and the words Don’t Tread On Me, and one decorative Welcome Friends flag on a porch. I certainly felt welcome in my neighborhood. Especially after walking past the corner house with a long vertical wood sign proposed in the doorway that said welcome. But the one that will linger in my memory for a while is the brightly colored porch sign that said BLOOM. I wish I had brought my phone along to photograph it, but that is one of my rules, no phone on my walks. I want to BE in the moment, not be looking for pictures, and miss out on something that I wasn’t focused on. Was BLOOM a proclamation? A command? A recommendation? Or just a hope for the future, as the land comes alive again after its long winter sleep once again.

Bloom. I think I will try to do that.

Worm Rain!!

Worm rain has arrived, announcing that spring is officially here!! What is worm rain? Ah! When the season starts changing from winter to spring, the snow turns to rain. We can get several storms with no worms. But then, one day, or night, you get a storm that brings the worms out of the ground. I’m not talking a few, but thousands! We will wake up to find that you can’t walk out to the end of the driveway without stepping on worms that are everywhere! It’s an amazing phenomena. For the next week we will drive on them, step on them and have to wipe them off the bottoms of our shoes before going indoors. We will have to pick up random dried out ones off the floor that did make it indoors. Mornings will be filled with the incredible sound of many different bird songs singing with full, happy tummies.

A memory I will always cherish had to do with this time of year. During spring break a few years back, I had two of my grands visiting. We booted up, wrapped up and headed outdoors to do some puddle jumping. That day I got to introduce my grands to the worms. Big, fat, long earthworms. They were hesitant to touch them at first, but warmed up to the idea quickly, making sure to try not to squash any when they splashed in the puddles.

Worm rain, another thing that makes me happy! May you find happiness in the little things of life!