I took advantage of the unseasonably early warm weather to get a jump on my landscaping. As a first act, I picked up a pair of soft knee pads from Home Depot, put them on, crawled into the low space below my deck, carefully avoided bumping my head, and spent the bulk of one recent warm and sunny afternoon removing outdoors items that I will be using over the next weeks and months: an eco-friendly and quiet, battery powered lawn mower; two portable hose carts containing nearly two hundred feet of hose; a very heavy and old wrought iron folding chair, still functional, but these days mainly a lawn ornament; two pedestal stands of differing heights that do not match, temporarily resting against a rear fence, safely out of my way for the time being.
I might have spent too much time on this beautiful, warm day downstairs in my basement, rummaging for sprinklers and spray hose attachments. Too much time looking for the hose splitter I had misplaced months earlier when I was hastily closing operations for the season. However, splitter now in hand once again, I opened what I remembered might be the water valve, then it was back up the stairs and outside to test the water spigot. Success – I had water. Next, I attach the splitter to the faucet but, lo and behold, there is a small leak, so it’s back to the basement to rummage for a fix.
I am not handy around the house, but extremely proficient at writing checks to people who are. Therefore, I felt immense pride when I scavenged a small rubber washer and used it to repair the leak. I am nearly ready to attach the hoses and spread them throughout the yard. However, before attaching the hoses, I first test the system. Perfect! At the sound of running water Lola the pup bounds from behind the building to attack it, snapping furiously at the cool water, flashing her pink tongue, and baring her white teeth until her ears are dripping wet.
While she is busy at it, I take this opportunity to remove the bungee cords and plastic bags protecting the numerous clay pots and small planters spread around the property, which have sat covered since last Fall. As I’ve learned over time, several of the bags feel quite heavy, meaning they are full of dirt and dirty water. These bags must be removed and disposed of with great care lest they tear apart and I end up wet and dirty myself. While I’m at it I collect the large tarps that I use to cover large planters and the wooden benches, wash them down and leave them outside in the sun to dry. The large planters, filled with dirt and drainage stones, are basically immovable objects. From year to year, I will swap out these flowers and other annuals for new ones.
I finish the day’s effort without having touched a single plant or even any soil.
The next gorgeous day, with Tim’s help, I give the property a proper grooming. We rake in the edges where months of winter neglect have left piles of leaves and yard debris up against the fence. The ivy and other groundcovers resist our rakes. Despite their strong resistance we fill four giant lawn bags, and part of a fifth. We also cut back the tall perennials and trim deadwood from the lilac bushes. Lastly, as an experiment, we split one large perennial and transplant it in the front yard by the sidewalk while Lola looks on intently.
But Spring also inevitably reminds me that Lee is gone. This was her garden.
However, the arrival of Spring season is universally cause for optimism. Today, I feel energized.
Yet, dozens of small decorative and architectural objects still await me down in the basement and out in the garage, shoved into corners, dusty and covered with cobwebs. I eventually will carry everything outside to clean and inspect, even though I already am certain that not every object will get put to clever use.
Indeed, despite today’s unseasonably warm sun, I feel the cold of late Fall and momentarily envision myself standing in the yard, bundled up, hands on hips, looking at these same Spring objects and wondering how it was that so many worthy tasks and projects are still incomplete or unfinished. And, looking on, once again I will recall that one’s “best laid plans,” to borrow the phrase first coined by the poet Burns, really do go awry.
However, that day is far off, and just now I am excited to be alive.