I don’t look forward to Earth Day anymore. Two years ago, I went for a walk on a sunny morning in late April and discovered a days-old development newly carved out of a patch of woods by the bayshore. Lots for Sale. The splendid yellow bulldozer still lingered on the scene, the air still toxic with the fumes of the macadam cul-de-sac.
Then last spring, I turned on the radio and heard about an oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, the start of a summer’s long environmental crisis in that part of the world. This year, Earth Day is still a week or so away and we have sewage plant disks that will linger on our shorelines probably as long as that pesky little radiation problem in Japan will be a devilment over there. They sent work crews down to the Cape last week to clean up the disks, but there are still plenty to be found. If I’d gone for the close-up, I have no doubt you’d find half a dozen in this photo below. Hidden pictures, anyone?
Fortunately, April is also about rebirth. Everywhere you look, there’s a slow motion fireworks display getting underway, with bright colors bursting out of almost every corner of the landscape. Nature’s cycle begins anew, growing fresh green over the scars of the past and rewarding the faith of gardeners everywhere.
In the last week we seem to have turned a corner with our weather. Our temperatures are just a little warmer, now. This past weekend, we slept with windows open for the first time, the peepers in the surrounding wetlands singing us off with a springtime lullabye. Oh, what a treat!
Pansies have appeared on the landscape, too, on plywood display racks in front of nurseries and groceries and garden centers everywhere.
A hanging basket of assorted colors was my first purchase this year, but just the thing to encourage me out onto the deck to re-install the first of the shepherd’s crooks.
Similarly, it was purchasing a whole flat of pansies in a range of purple-blues and tiny violas in yellow for contrast that got me to start raking out beds and cleaning up the lawn. There’s an extra layer of thatch to be teased free after last year’s droughtiness, but the raked spots green up so nice, it’s worth the effort. The robins stalk my progress, digging worms out of the ground where I’ve been. Cardinals sing down the sun as I rake.
It feels so good to be outside, to be finding everything coming back to life: the tulips that will be blooming before long, the heliotrope which will tower shortly thereafter. All the perennials are lush and green looking, as I clear away the debris of last season and the leaves which gathered through the winter’s storms. I think it’s fun to put on the yard’s happy face at the start of the season, as I consider all the possibilities that lie ahead.
The signs of the season are all around us. All of the different blackbird varieties have now returned, their presence noted in and around feeders. Last weekend, a convention of raptors was spotted overhead in our yard, seven or eight of them. They were up pretty high and we weren’t trying too hard to identify them, but the likeliest suspects are red-tailed hawks, ospreys and/or turkey vultures. Down on the ground, chipmunks are beginning to scamper about, cautious of the danger overhead, but eager to find food.
This young flicker has been advertising his baser instincts by jackhammering against the vinyl siding right behind where I sit at the computer each sunny morning this week. You’d think this would give him a wicked headache, but this is how his people attract the attention of a pretty young girl flicker. There’s a whole family of flickers visiting the yard this spring, in fact. I’ve seen one or two in the past, but they have apparently found something to bring them back here with their growing family.
You can be sure that I am not the only one who’s noticing the change in the seasons. Spring (and no doubt the scent of all those birds) has most certainly gotten into to the nose of my roommate and we have been re-introducing after-dinner walks around the yard into our evening routine this week.
My pal Badum is always happy to get out and do a little exploring, but especially so at the end of a long winter (but not all thaaaat long, as we did manage one of these walks one surprisingly-warm day in early January). It’s fun to see a different side of his personality when we get outside and I try to stay out of his line of sight, when possible, to give him the authentic “I’m outside on my own” experience. I sometimes suspect he’s as pleased to have some protection from that large birds we now-and-then see overhead.
Anyway, it’s mostly about him finding the kind of grass he likes to nibble on best. Once in a while, tho, something catches his eye, like the black cat he spotted lurking in the woods at the back of our property tonight. Fortunately, he didn’t bolt, since he might easily have escaped the harness and I used that…and the falling dark…to justify the end of the evening’s explorations.
Still, it is loads of fun to get out there and see the world through his eyes. I never know just what it is we’ll find. For instance, it was the Gardener’s Cat who pointed out the wild white violets which were quietly starting to bloom at the feet of our aging catawba tree. Amusingly enough, he seems not to have a clue that a family of squirrels have been seen building a home inside.
“Hoe while it is spring, and enjoy the best anticipations.
It is not much matter if things do not turn out well.”