I can hear them tuning up. So can my spouse, whose cabin fever I’ll put up against any New Englander who thinks winter has been too darn long.
My best friend, bless her, has impatiently awaited the assembly of the “garden corral” in the parking lot of the nearby Wal-Mart. As the first concrete blocks are placed to mark its boundaries, her heart begins to pitty-pat with an excitement I’m certain can be felt in the farm fields that surround our burg.
Pallets holding huge piles of Pine Bark mulch reach out for empty space I’ll make in the vehicle which, for the past several months, has been relegated solely to commuting duties. It turns out I can get about 25 bags into the back of the Outback, if I turn down the back seat and remove any flotsam I’ve felt was absolutely necessary to not be without in my normal travels.
Already, posies of amazing variety purchased and brought home to frame the place where our wood-framed cave in the shire.
Lawn mowers are tuning up to that perfect pitch that symphonizes weekends in the ’burbs: the contralto of the walk-behind with which the next door neighbor carefully trims the tips of new-grown bladed Kentucky Fescue, and the deeper thrum of a riding mower echoing among the tomatoes, peppers and other future foodstuffs in the backyard garden. Across the street, a much larger, commercial-grade mower, whirls and cavorts around bushes and shrubs and an almost whiny electric string trimmer shaves from around the flower beds errant blades of grass unreachable with the larger machines, while a tornadic blower drives miscreant leaves and cuttings from a perfected lawn.
Trees of various shapes already have begun to cast their pastel shades across the countryside, as though a reincarnated Claude Monet had risen from his garden in Giverny, in France’s Normandy region, where he lived the second and final 40 years of his life.
Daffodils have risen in random places among the woodlands. They trumpet their visual presentation in members by the dozen, awaiting the children who might carefully pick them by the handfuls and bring them to whichever adult they first encounter.
“Here, Gramma. These are for you.”
Hummingbirds soon will compete with ants for the sweet liquid we already have hung from the trellis.
I’ll never entirely understand how the ants can find it so quickly. Even were it to drip on the ground, how do they know to climb the post and trek across the beam to where the hummingbird feeder hangs by a chain down which they climb?
And how can a creature smart enough to do all that, be so stupid as to climb through the feeding hole, into the tank of sugar water — in which it will, finally, drown?
Gray squirrels have cavorted around our yard all winter. They have spent most of the recently past months holed up in nests of leaves snuggled into the crooks of trees behind our abode. Now they trade human-supplied handfuls of peanuts for the masses of helicopter seeds about to be provided by the Silver Maple decorating our lawn and garden.
Thwarting squirrels’ seed-raiding forays has become an entertainment in itself. Last year, I tried a plastic collar purchased from the home improvement emporium. The little rascals ate away at it until finally it separated, allowing unimpeded passage to the waiting booty. We have replaced the plastic shields with metal. So far, so good.
The resident exterior decorator, finally released from her indoor imprisonment, finds simple entertainment sitting in the back yard watching critters playing their time-honed roles and soaking in the symphony of colors and sound that is spring in the near-woods.
©2023 John Messeder. John is an award-winning ecology columnist and social anthropologist, and lives in Gettysburg, PA. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org