I Love Springtime
April is a time of wind and rain. It's that time of year when the sun smiles benignly down on us, warming those bones that have been chilled by winter. April is a time of bright sun and soft balmy breezes. It's a time for holes in the ground, blisters on the hands, thorns under the fingernails, and curses ringing in the air. Yep, April means gardening time.
As April approached, I gathered my meager assortment of tools together and prepared to go forth and plant. Rusty shovel, broken hoe, ancient weed-whacker and a variety of small hand-held dirt tools. I piled this motley group of stuff on the back porch and surveyed my backyard — the ragged patches of grass, the dried flower stalks drooping forlornly in their beds, the flower bed full of sticks, balls and assorted other detritus. I inhaled deeply. Ah, I love this time of the year.
I began this year's gardening efforts by turning over a small flower bed near the back porch. After turning and chopping up this dirt, I would plant an assortment of early-flowering spring bulbs. I knelt down and worked silently for some time, digging and chopping, pausing only to wipe the sweat from my forehead.
"Whatcha doing, daddy?" Mary, my 11 year old daughter, stood on the back porch steps with a glass of ice water in her hand.
I gratefully accepted the water and drank thirstily. I licked sweat and ice water off my upper lip and said, "I'm just laying in part of the spring garden. This is where I'm putting down some spring bulbs. Just wait till you see 'em, sugarcake. They're gonna be really pretty." Mary giggled and pointed behind me. "Boy Kitty is planting something for you. I guess he's a gardener too."
I turned around. Boy Kitty was squatted down and taking a dump right in my newly turned dirt. His unwinking malevolent green eyes were fixed on me and I could read the disdain in his posture as he balanced carefully over the hole he'd dug. "Boy Kitty is fertilizing the flowers for you, daddy." Mary giggled again as she carried the empty water glass inside. "Now you have somebody to help you garden."
I looked at Boy Kitty, who was now carefully scraping dirt over his planted project. He sniffed the little hill and daintily walked away, secure in the knowledge that he'd once again done something to irritate me. I sighed. Newly turned earth drew every cat in the neighborhood like a powerful magnet. I was probably turning up as much cat shit as I was earth. I dropped a small rock over the place where the cat pooped and planted bulbs everywhere else. When I was done I stepped back, smacked my hands together to rid them of dirt and surveyed my progress. That looked pretty good. In a month or so we would see some lovely flowers blooming there.
I spent the rest of the morning turning over dirt, planting more bulbs and pruning shrub roses. While pruning, I managed to lance myself with a sticker from the rose bush. If you've never done it, you can't imagine the pain involved. I stuck myself in the webbing between my thumb and forefinger, and my hand throbbed all the way up to my elbow. It felt like I'd bayoneted myself in the arm. I basically gardened with one hand while I cradled the injured hand to my chest. When I finally finished, I walked around and surveyed the morning's work. Lessee, the crocus bulbs I'd planted were dug up and scattered throughout the yard, courtesy of Woofers, my daughter's rat terrier. Thanks Woofers. Two more cats had dumped in my freshly prepared vegetable bed. Good job, kitty. I'd broken the handle off my shovel, and it lay in a ruin on the back step. My injured hand throbbed, my face was sweaty and dirty and my back felt like somebody had broken a shovel across it. I wiped my face and looked into the blue morning sky. Yep, everything was rolling right along just as usual. Thank God for spring.