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Gardener's Spring Fever

Published in the six Nashoba Publishing papers on Friday, 8 March 2002

Several days of fifty-degree weather have stirred me up: I'm impatient for spring. The path to the compost pile is still hazardous with ice, but (at the moment) the snow is gone from much of the garden; I stop for a few minutes, putting the kitchen compost bucket down, to break off some of last fall's dead perennial tops. No new green sprouts yet — but soon!

I'm itching to see fresh growth, but I'm also itching to get out there and do some real work in the garden. The joys of gardening are only half in the result; the process itself is just as satisfying: the tangible, sensory interaction with the physical garden.

I'm itching for that first day when I can put aside everything that needs doing indoors and spend the whole day getting the garden in order. When I come in at the end of the day aching all over, go to bed and get up and go out and do it again .. and again ... until finally my body starts to shape up for the year.

I want to feel my back working to heft and sling a big shovelful of earth I've dug from the ground; to scrape my trowel across a heap of compost I'm screening and smell its sweetness as it falls through the half-inch grid in showers of fluffy crumbs; to pick up one of the squirming, fat six-inch red worms that help make the compost, and carefully lift it off the screen to safety.

During the work season, dirty garden clothes pile up on the laundry room floor until a rainy day, so I keep a big supply of anything that's sturdy but stained or torn too badly to be "presentable." They're all clean, mended and folded in my closet now, waiting. Even some ratty old wool sweaters for when I work in the rain.

Spring around here means blackflies; I don't care. After them, the mosquitoes — and we live right next to a swamp! I come in at dusk covered with red spots as though I had measles, and jump in the hottest shower I can stand to scratch the itch with the sting of the heat. Satisfying.

I'm tired of winter's planning and dreaming; I need the nitty-gritty. I want to get my hands in the earth and the earth under my fingernails.

Soon! I can't wait!

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© Copyright 2002 Catherine Holmes Clark