Spring & the Zen of Gardening

It took moving to Oregon to finally understand the meaning of spring.

In the area of California where I used to live, the days start getting warm in February. By March the days are gorgeous. Sometimes the first 80-degree day hits early, feeling like it’s 100. By the time April 21 rolls around, the official start of spring seems like someone’s idea of a joke.

In Oregon, the spring equinox finally makes sense. On target, the earth explodes in the third week of April, its arrival celebrated with grand sales at the home improvement stores. Bags of soil amendment, seeds and flats of perennials go on sale along with everything one would possibly need to grow a garden. Stores hold drawings and giveaways, complete with hot dogs and balloons. Makes a person proud to own a hoe. I’ll be there this weekend, stocking up along with my neighbors. It’ll be like a 4th of July picnic, a harbinger of the season. A celebration of life. A small thing, but really, not. It’s a reminder that the dark months are over. We crawled out from the long sleep renewed and refreshed. We made it.

Spring reminds me that I’m capable of rebirth. I can still wield a hoe and rake and, and by all that’s holy, I intend to use them. I have a long list of projects, completed in front of the fireplace last winter, and now I’m hitting the dirt with everything I’ve got. Being physically fit is the result of good habits and luck. I don’t take for granted that I can handle a hoe and rake for five hours, that I can unload a thirty-pound sack of amendment from the pickup. Many people can’t. For a lifetime gardener the loss of strength and agility is a terribly loss. It will come one day, but I want to hold that time at bay by working up a sweat while I still can.

The sunshine, the crisp spring air, the drizzle of rain that salutes my flowerbed after a morning’s work are miracles. My efforts are a form of prayer, a way of saying “Thanks” to the ultimate Gardener. It’s also a reminder that I need patience to love my enemies, dandelions among them. I tell myself we should be able to co-exist in harmony. Maybe use some of them in tea. I’ve read that every part of the dandelion is usable and I intend to try.  I don’t want to rage against my nemesis, just share the earth for a time. After all, they’ll be around a lot longer than I will.

Yesterday my husband and I cleaned out the ravine previous farmers used as a household dump. With leather gloves we pulled bottles, car parts and pots and pans from their resting place and piled them into the trailer. We hauled them to the recycling and separated them. It feels really good, making one tiny area of the earth cleaner, safer, better.

The least we can do to honor spring.

What about you? Any plans?


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