It’s spring. But not really. The calendar says spring, but it’s more like some messy, muddy, dead, in-between season. It deserves its own name — something ugly, like Sprunter or Blarch.
Some years, come the end of March, there are still ice floes on the boulevards as dense as neutron stars, and you hack them apart with a spade. And fittingly so; winter deserves to be humiliated on the way out.
Not this year. Winter packed up and left like a tenant who moved out in the dead of night and didn’t even ask for his security deposit.
The days are longer; the sun is stronger, and its rays are pulling the tulips out of the earth. There’s one! There’s another! And ... that’s it. Wait a minute. You planted 20.
Last fall you planted the bulbs like IRA contributions, an investment in the future. What you are doing is feeding the bulb-ovores in your neighborhood — bunnies, squirrels, largemouth ice geckos, I don’t know. But something eats them. To these creatures, the bulbs are like sacks of groceries drizzled with movie-theater popcorn butter.
So you push two dozen down in the dirt, and maybe five come up. Well, you helped a famished bunny, so there’s that. It would be nice if there was a knock at the door, and you opened it up to find a mother rabbit and five bunnies all sitting there looking cute, noses twitching, and Mother gives you something in payment. Like, a leaf with the number 5 on it because they think it’s money. Adorable.
But life is not a Beatrix Potter illustration, and even if it were, you would eventually overcome your aversion to chasing a bulb-thieving rabbit who wore clothes. First year: “They’re so cute!” Second year: “Dangit, they ate all the tulips.” Third year: “I have a pile of small vests. Maybe Goodwill will want them.”
Spring is a signal that the war is about to begin: you vs. nature. This means:
Weeding. Or, as it should be called, deweeding. In the backyard this means squirting some Anti-Spurge Fluid on a plant that offers up a nice purple flower as a peace offering: “Hey, look, I’m pretty! How ’bout you let me just hang out for a while?”
“No. You choke the grass, and your flowers last for six hours and then they’re nothing but leaves that look like small, dry, toad corpses.”
Seeding. In a few weeks, I will start the annual attempt to get grass to grow on a shaded area of the lawn Nothing grows. I put down sod one year, and it looked like a shag rug from 1973 — brown and yellow.
This year I’m going to spread cheese and hope for mold.