Monday, April 10, 2006

sunday in the garden

The weather is perfect. Blue sky, mild, cool temperatures. No wind.

I hook Franklin the dog to his tether and stake. He is not a garden dog, sitting close and watching me as I work. Glenda, the eldest cat, was a great gardening companion. Instead, Franklin likes to watch the street for alien dogs and walkers who stroll by. He is on alert, even in his silence, sitting with ears erect, watching.

I grab the spading fork, and plot out bed by bed where I will work. And then I begin breaking up the surface of the first bed, working each bit of weed or stray grass out of the soil, careful to get all the root. The ground is cold, and slightly moist. Particularly in the areas where I have worked in lots of compost over the years, the soil is almost like lumpy flour. On this day, I pull weeds out without much effort. In two or three weeks, the soils will have thickened by the heat, and in a month, there will be more weeds, and generally more foilage, making weeding more difficult. In the current slang, this is sweet.

I plug in some day lillies that I've moved from another corner of the garden. I should wear gloves, but this first day of garden work, I cannot do it. The feel of cold, pliable soil is too much fun. Later, in the night, my fingernails hurt from cuts and dirt under the nails. But now, I am enjoying the work. Spend ten minutes weeding and you can look back and see what you have accomplished. By doing this now, there will be less weeds all summer, and weeding will become a ten or fifteen minute sweep once a week.

I break up the weeding by stopping to make a final sweep of sweetgum balls, the last remnants from shaking by the hard storms of a week earlier. And I pop up dandelions. So far, there aren't many. But the fact that the grass is still not so thick (give it a day or so), I could easily see the dandelions.

There are no leaves on the trees yet. The daffodils are peaking, or just a little past. The forsythia is full and willowy, bright yellow floating around. Outside of the yellow, and the green from a junipier hedge, the only other color is from various tulip magnoilia trees opening up, and the sky. The light from the sun is broken up only by the bare tree branches.

I find hollyhock roots in a bed. I've been dissatisfied by their location, so I move them to a sunnier spot, arranged in more of a clump than in a straight line. The chilled air makes this kind of editing lessy risky to the plant.

The dog barks often. "Be quiet," I say, when I pay attention, but I am not much aware of time or other people. About seven hours later -- it did not seem that long -- I quit, tired and a little hungry. I cannot buy days like this.

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