Spring time means many things to Master Gardeners, but never has a springtime brought so much frustration. With so much snow one of our most important and fun annual activities has been postponed and put back more times than we care to count.
Each year around the beginning of April we dig up our gardens so to speak. Really. In the fall we mark plants in our gardens that are flourishing so well we can divide them. In the spring we dig them up for re-potting to share at the Hennepin County Master Gardener Plant Sale.
However this year the digs have been repeatedly set back by this persistent snowy weather. But digs and potting parties are once again planned for this weekend. Never say the Master Gardeners aren't cold hardy for all zones.
This is a wonderful chance to buy proven plants that are tried and true for Minnesota conditions; perennials, ornamentals, natives plus veggie seedlings from the U of MN seed trials. And as always Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer all your gardening questions.
We hope to see you there:
Hennepin County Master Gardener Plant Sale
Saturday, May 18 9am to 2pm
Hopkins Pavilion, 11000 Excelsior Blvd. Hopkins MN 55343
It's a running joke (forgive me) in our family that my husband and grown kids shouldn't run in public. I can't really describe why, except it's sort of a hand-flailing, flat-footed gait best only displayed in emergencies like missing your plane or a mountain lion in pursuit.
But I should talk.
For most of my life the thought of running in public has left me in a cold sweat. It takes me back to that sandy track alongside the strawberry fields at my junior high school where I couldn't do the mile to save me. Looking back I wonder why it was such an impossible feat. I was the tall, skinny tomboy who rode my bike up dirt hills and played kickball and whatever else-ball was going on. I was always playing outside.
On top of that I had to do "calisthenics" every night for 30 minutes at home because President Kennedy and my dad said I should. Does anyone remember the Presidents Council on Physical Fitness? Plus I walked to school, the library, the store, the beach, everywhere.
What was it about that mile? I wonder now if it was the air pollution, that thick orange bar of lead-filled smog resting on the ocean's horizon? Was it undiagnosed asthma? Did it elicit a panic attack? Why did those four times around the track elude me and leave me gasping for air?
This was back before the self-esteem movement and the PE instructor lady held no mercy, no attagirls for me. She waited impatiently with her clipboard poised and her mouth pursed until I staggered across the line, much, much later than my peers. Coupled with the snickering of my classmates, the embarrassment was unequaled.
With that so far in the past, I've been walking, walking, working my way towards longer journeys. I walk the lake trails where I keep to the right, amazed at the number of runners; their sizes, shapes and ages, that pass me.
One day I had a strange thought. Now living in a town where thousands of people run races at the drop of a hat, and in a neighborhood where any holiday is reason to run in clever costumes; can you say Monster Dash, Turkey Trot, Reindeer Run, you get the idea...it probably wouldn't seem strange. However one day as I ambled along feeling fitter than I had in a long time, I thought, "What would happen if I started running?"
So I did. And a funny thing occurred. I kept running for quite a while and when I stopped I wasn't gasping, I wasn't really out of breath. It wasn't like I ran a mile, more it was that I ran at all.
With so many accomplished runners in this city, it might seem like nothing, almost laughable. "Woman runs!"
But for me, it was a revelation. I don't plan to become a runner. Yet now when I hit the trail, it's walk a little, run a little.
Best of all no one's laughing at me and I'm grinning ear to ear.
The stacks of mail are sorted. The piles of laundry are folded, well, almost. My warm winter home-away-from-home is just a memory, thanks winter, you waited for me to get back.
My time in Savannah was different from last year when I lived between Pinkie Masters, #3 dive bar in the south with its raucous sidewalk revelers, and the soaring spires of St John the Baptist Cathedral with its jubilant and punctual but jangly bells.
Changing to a little apartment on Abercorn was quiet for the most part aside from a heavy-footed fellow on the floor above. The ten thouand souls buried across the street at the historic Colonial Cemetery were well-behaved despite the various ghost tours that peer through the fence in the evenings talking up spooky tales that earn this city a spot on the most haunted list on a regular basis.
Around 600 tombstones remain but thousands more were laid to rest after suffering the ravages of yellow fever, frenzied duels and general misfortune from the mid 1700's until just before the Civil War when it closed down. Yet with all this potential for paranormal sightings I found myself haunted by another soul, an uneasy one but still alive.
Keeping my dog at this apartment saw me heading out 6 times everyday from dawn to dusk and then dark for his walks. We quickly found favorite routes with lovely gardens for me and patches of public grass for him. We would stroll through a few squares, hit a couple quiet of lanes and then double back through the cemetery and home.
Everyday unless it was raining I would see him sitting on the same bench facing south. He wears a heavy green Army jacket and keeps a black knitted scarf over his mouth. The rest of his face resembles a dark, shiny walnut burl.
I talk about him in present tense because I know at this very moment he is probably there on that bench.
He sits upright and statue-like, and somewhat dignified in sleep for the better part of the day. Other times he rocks in place. Those few times he leaves this spot you see that the bench seat is polished from his presence, a burnished circle he has worn into the wood.
When it rains he sits at the covered bus stop by the cathedral. When the wind blows he switches to the other side of the street by the breakfast cafe. At night he goes one more block, startling me the first time I see his shadowy figure curled behind the plexiglass as I hurry past.
Dog or not, I walk miles in Savannah all through the Historic District, through Forsyth Park, down the city's spine on Bull Street, zigzagging through the squares on my way to coffee shops to write or larking around with my daughter, but this new dog routine made me much more aware of the characters and forgotten folks of this pretty city that Lady Astor of England famously called "a beautiful woman with a dirty face".
For all I go on about Savannah I am keenly aware that just beyond the boundaries of the historic district the Disneyland-like cobbled streets and gaslit facades fade into a misery of gangs and crumbling buldings and housing projects. The number of transients, mentally ill and the desperate populating the parks has increased. I find the back and forth from blight to beautiful within blocks disconcerting and frustrating. That tenuous safety I felt before is shakier.
Feeling powerless you can try to vote, volunteer and donate it away and still it continues, everywhere.
There's a group of kind people that wander through Savannah's parks with a red wagon bringing food and other items to the homeless and aimless. I know that's how "my" homeless guy eats. I considered leaving food at the bench.
I would have felt like a pathetic do-gooder trying to engage him in conversation. I felt he deserved his privacy.
Is it enough I now think about him everyday?
I've got the Westminster Dog Show marked on my calendar. But not for the reason you think. Yeah, I watch it some years, others not. It's fun to see all the different breeds, but often the winner seems like a dog far divorced from reality resembling more dust mop than canine companion.
I've noted the date for another reason. My dog's a big fan and I'd hate to see him miss it.
Does your dog watch TV?
From my informal facebook analysis, mine's not alone in his viewing habits. And on a side note, he's not alone in his name, just how many women my age have a dog named Henry? Turns out quite a lot.
It's pretty black and white whether your dog enjoys television in living color or whatever spectrum they see. You don't get the "Oh, I only watch Homeland" types, they either love it or don't get it.
I've had quite a few dogs in my lifetime however my Henry-dog is the first to embrace TV. Actually it's more like he pounces on the table and tries to enter the flickering box, set off by the first note of songs he associates with his favorite commercials. Funniest of all is his love of sports, and no lie, the Vikings. He is actually the only sports fan in the house.
And oh, the whining that commences with that mournful sounding Sara Maclachlan dog charity commercial.
All those studies about toddlers and TV, where's the one for dogs?
You see Henry has a certain, let's just call it "joie de vivre". He has lots of energy that no amount of walking, ball playing, etc., can extinguish. I feel bad when I leave the house without him, making sure he has a toy or food treat to keep him busy. I leave a used paper towel on the counter, a decoy of sorts, that let's him feel he has accomplished some counter surfing, without sacrificing a bunch of bananas or ciabatta loaf he's been known to enjoy.
I never came down on one side or the other about TV for my kids, I go with moderation in all things. So when I leave the TV on for him why do I feel this tiny twinge of mommy guilt for using the electronic babysitter? I just know he had no qulams about us leaving the house during the Olympics. He was glued to every event and slobbering all over the screen.
So here's my question. Are dogs that watch television smarter than dogs that don't? Henry is a labradoodle crossed with a goldendoodle, that's oodles of doodle. It's my first time with any poodleyness, and I attribute it to that. Yet if he's so smart shouldn't he realize he can't jump into the screen as he attempts every night during the sports segment?
Let me know, which camp does your dog fall into, TV-watcher or not?
This morning finds reports of one person's solution to the coyote problem I spoke about the other day. However gunfire in a residential area is not a smart or sustainable remedy. RIP WileE Coyote?
Click here for the story.