Once again, the peas will not be ‘planted by Patriots’ Day to be ready by the Fourth.’ This is not unusual. There have been very few years that the garden was not still buried in snow at the time that traditionally these legumes should go into the ground. Just as there have been very few years in the many decades I have lived in Maine that did not have at least one snow storm in April, despite the near-hysteria that prevails each time it happens.
When I arrived home last Friday, having spent the majority of the last seven months in California, snow still covered most of the yard. Only the flower beds near the house were mostly bare. Except for the bigger one behind the kitchen. There the snowpack on the side where the roof slopes down depositing its share of ice and snow is usually very deep and persistent. The garden had over three feet in some spots. It is easy to estimate the depth, because there are still 6-foot tall tomato stakes imbedded in one section.
It has been fun for the last few days seeing the tops of tomato cages and the little fences I had put up for the cucumbers and beans appear. The other morning I glanced up from my desk to see the top of a head and two big dark eyes staring back. Hoot, my 2-foot tall ceramic owl, was becoming visible. Now, he is completely exposed, and much less sinister. The snow is disappearing rapidly.
Every spring the yard and garden require some cleanup due to trees that hold their leaves longer than the majority, and general havoc caused by late fall and winter storms. However, as the few very warm days since my return remove the cover, my autumn negligence is revealed.The yard was not raked. The grass was not cut. The garden was not cleared. Heck, it was barely harvested, when I left two weeks earlier than planned. I had started to take down the deer fencing, but did not complete the task. Part of it is neatly folded, the rest still connected to the posts at ground level.
Like housework, yard work is patient and loyal. It waits for you to take care of it. Unlike housework, yard work multiplies while it waits. The grass continues to grow and then the long spears die creating hard to remove thatch. Leaves that were dry in the fall and easy to displace, become wet and decay. Weeds get a foothold and set up thriving communities. I don’t even want to think about what is happening within the soil. Mole tracks indicate grubs.
The dawning of each day brings a new chance to get ‘the rest of my life’ right, or, at least better. My dream of being organized and neat could happen. This time. Spring is the morning of the year. We celebrate a calendar date in what is not even mid-winter, but really the beginning of the cold and snowy season. That is a vestige of the pagan celebration of the solstice, the attempt to influence the sun to return with its warmth. True morning comes with the rebirth, the new shoots, ice out, the awakening of hibernating creatures, the return of migrating birds.
Yesterday’s rain interrupted my attempts to do some clearing. There has not been a lot of time that can be devoted to the task. It was not only the garden and yard that were neglected, and my return has added other clutter. Suitcases semi-unpacked littering the hallway; literally, a foot and a half of mail collected from the post office; taxes to calculate, so others can use the money I worked so hard to get.
Pete Seeger’s song keeps running through my head. To every thing…there is a season…and a time for every purpose under Heaven. He borrowed the words from Ecclesiastes, but it is his voice I hear. And, I wish I had done these things in their season, because they will not only take more time and effort to do them, now, but the doing of these untimely things will crowd into the time for other purposes.
Still, genies understand better than most that wishes cannot change reality, and regardless of whether it is the proper season, things must be done. The crocus and jonquils do not care what was or was not accomplished in September and October. Their season has come, and they are pushing through the old grass and dead leaves. Last night, I heard the peepers’ songs.