The rites of spring |

The rites of spring

I am certain spring is just around the corner. Or the next corner. Or, OK, the next one.

While friends of mine spent the past weekend diving in Cozumel, backpacking in Utah and visiting family in Martha’s Vineyard, I spent my weekend taking money from my wallet and burning it in hopes of growing the perfect flower garden.

Apparently, I haven’t learned much from the past 16 springs I’ve spent at 9,600 feet.

Each year, hope springs eternal. I dupe myself into thinking the last big snowfall of the year will be in mid-March, the ground will thaw the day after the ski resorts close, and flowers of all species will emerge from hibernation, dotting the dark earth with color and filling the air with light, floral accents.

No, wait, that’s the wine.

Instead, the last snowfall typically comes right after I’ve washed my car – or right before it needs a repair – the ground is solid until June, and the only thing emerging from hibernation, dotting the earth with color and filling the air with smells are what the neighbor’s dogs left behind over the winter.

Ah, spring.

I should probably attribute my delusions to cabin fever, but this year, I’m determined to have one of the healthier gardens and lawns in town. I say “healthier,” because if I say “green” or “lush” or “bountiful,” I’m sure to get in trouble with the lawn police who are out this year to ensure people don’t use more than their Recommended Daily Allowance of water.

Unfortunately, I tend to get a little, uh, enthusiastic.

First, I began digging a trench to divert standing water from the driveway to the lawn.

Diverting water reminded me I want to install gutters on our roof. So I headed to Gardens-R-Us and bought about 100 feet of gutter and the little thingies that support them.

Then, I began shoveling dirt and rocks from the lawn.

When I got bored of the lawn, I retreated to the garden, from which I pulled dead twigs, rocks and banana peels. (Don’t ask.) I raked around the emerging tulips – I like to think of it as scratching my garden’s back after a long winter – rebuilt the rock wall surrounding the garden and aerated the dark, moist soil.

The garden soil was so dark and loamy, I decided it would be a good time to plant flowers. Back to the garden store, this time for pansies, columbines, lamb’s ears and poppies. I ripped out dandelions, thistle, false chamomile and grass.

Back to the lawn. I raked until my back ached and my rake broke. (Back to the garden store.) I scooped piles of dead grass into trash bags. I even thought about getting out the vacuum cleaner to get the last of the debris off my lawn.

I decided aerating might be the way to go to help the water get to the roots. (Back to the garden store.) While I was there, I decided to pick up a couple bags of fertilizer. I was loading it into my car when I thought it might be good to add a few bags of peat to the garden.

Back at home, I watered the lawn, spread fertilizer and dumped about two tons of peat moss onto the garden.

I measured the gutters and did some higher math – for me, anyway – to determine how many support units I would need to hold them up. I did more math to figure out the angle the gutters needed to be to make sure the water flowed west, not east.

I realized I had the wrong size screws, and headed back to the garden center, where my attention was diverted to paint. The living room could use a new coat of paint. So could the house. Which reminded me, I need to repair my wooden rocking chair, which would require some wood glue, mahogany stain and sandpaper.

Oh, and shelving units were on sale. We need to replace the shelves in our living room. Which reminded me that I need to tighten the cap on our fireplace flue. Which reminded me I need to figure out why our smoke detector chirps from 3-9 a.m.

At some point during the afternoon, I decided to take a break. I sat in my creaking rocking chair overlooking my brown lawn and listened to the weather forecast.

Sixteen years I’ve lived here. I should have known. They’re calling for snow.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or, unless she’s at the garden store burning a hole in every bank account she has. Jane’s column usually runs Wednesdays, but an oversight by the editor brings it to readers today.

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