Last week the clock said to spring forward, but there is nothing about getting up an hour earlier that gets me springing anywhere. However, an extra hour of daylight in the afternoon was a good enticement to spring home from work, grab a rake, and head out into the garden.
I love to rake. It makes me happy. Raking gets me outside on a sunny day. When the temperature is in the fifties, like it often is in March, the brisk air is perfect for working without getting hot. The heart gets pumping while the arms get working and the sunbeams do their magic. Endorphins are flowing! Yay, it’s so good to be outside! When the temp is in the seventies, like it has been this week, nothing can keep me indoors!
This year it is even better than usual, because I find that I can rake without pain. My new two-month-old hip is perfectly content to get out there and rake. Although my smart-aleck sister tells me I now walk like Dad, I actually feel like a normal person–or at least what I think a normal person feels like. What a change from the impossible task of raking last fall.
Raking always makes me think of our long-ago neighbor Sam. Sam had a perfect yard. It was a small just-inside-the-Beltway yard, bordered by a chain link fence. It was perfectly mowed, perfectly edged, perfectly bordered with little concrete bed borders and never a leaf to be seen. Sam policed his yard wearing what looked like a cotton picker’s sack and carrying a pole with a point on the end–the kind maintenance workers used to use to pick up trash. He’d stab each wayward leaf and stash it in the sack. That’s how few leaves he had–he could stab each one with a stick.
Some people, like Sam, have immaculate yards and spring just marches in for them. Out here in the Hereford Zone, immaculate yard-keepers are either leaf-blower fanatics or they don’t have a wooded lot. No leaf-blowing fanatics live at our house; it is an unending task and there are so many other things to do. Sam would lose his mind trying to keep ahead of the leaves out here. Not only are the woods full of them, but the white oaks have an annoying way of waiting until May to drop their remaining leaves. It’s best to toss aside any idea of “immaculate.” “Perfect” needs to go, too. “Aesthetically pleasing” is about as good as it gets.
Nevertheless, raking in March is immensely gratifying. It is a mindless task that yields immediate results. Each swipe of the rake removes the dull cloak of winter-brown to reveal the fresh green of spring. Vinca is just waiting to be seen. Crocus are desperately trying to pop their colors. Daffodils are begging for a fresh new bed to wake up in. Off go the sedum twigs. A sweep reveals new buds ready to unfurl. Each section that I rake pulls off more of the blanket of winter. Spring has just been waiting for me.
With so much to rake, I must prioritize. Who is blooming first and what do I look at the most? No matter when I start–and this year I feel like I’ve had a head-start–it’s always a race against Spring. I must get the leaves out of the way before Spring appears. Crocus and daffodils have priority. The front of the house and views from the kitchen window get targeted first. A close second is the herb garden. I know the chives are beginning to peek up. By St. Paddy’s Day, they are tall enough to snip for my morning egg.
Saturday was a glorious St. Patrick’s Day–by the end of the day the yard was definitely wearin’ o’ the green. Almost all the beds were raked out and the grass was blown clear. We were rewarded with an al fresco dinner of corned beef and cabbage and a Bailey’s Irish Cream sundae for dessert. Does it get any better than that?