Writing again

Spring: muddy, cold, damp, and smelly. Oh, joy.

Spring is my least-favorite time of year.

Yes, yes, I welcome the return of the sun and the arrival of milder weather, I revel in each evening’s extra minute of daylight, and rejoice in the yearly reprieve from ice-related injuries. All of that. Lovely. Fantastic. Spring does make the world leap and bound with joy at being released from winter’s icy grip. I would leap too, and skip and dance with happiness, if only Spring wasn’t so messy.

I don’t hate Spring. I hate dealing with Spring. Spring is like the year’s toddler phase. It is bright and funny, photogenic and adorable. Huggable, yes. Amazing, humbling, and a sheer delight, yes. It also spends much of its time covered in filth and stinking to high heaven. That part isn’t so lovable.

I love dirt. Gardening is dirt therapy. Dirt therapy heals things in my soul that I don’t remember are broken until I get outside and bury my hands in soil. When I have grime smeared up my forearms and down my pants, I feel…whole. I’m happiest when I have grit in my teeth, mulch in my pockets and pebbles in my boots. Every year I look forward to the first day when I can sling on my grubbies and get into the yard again.

But. (There’s always a but. In the spring, that butt is usually covered in mud.)

In spring, all the joy of playing outside ends at the threshold of the house. Out is out. In is in. Home is where the heart is. No one ever said “Home is where you pick stinking bits of mushroom compost out of the bedroom carpet for a month.”  I could garden all day long from from May to November and not bring in half the muck of one spring dirt therapy session.

Spring has no grasp of boundaries. Maybe I would enjoy the season more if I had a home with a mud room. Probably not, because even then I would have to clean the mud room, and I am at heart a lazy woman. As matters stand, I put up with Spring because it grows into Summer.

Every season has its aggravations. There are only so many layers of clothing one can remove to relieve the pressure of summer’s staggering heat and humidity. There are only so many times one can drive along behind a snow-covered vehicle, shovel a drifted driveway, knock down icicles and thaw pipes before Jack Frost becomes persona non grata. Autumn is nearly as incontinent as Spring, and if not for apple harvest and pumpkins, Oktoberfest and the smell of fallen leaves, I would probably resent it as much as Spring.

Autumn has flaming bonfires and blankets of flaming red under bare black sugar maple branches. Autumn has the brisk chill without the damp, deep blue skies and vivid green lawns. It has a sense of confident completion and satiation that Spring wholly lacks.

Spring has…crocus and daffodils. Pretty enough, if the rabbits leave them alone long enough to bloom, but it’s usually a case of too little stretched too thin. The skies are hazy and grey more than blue, when the sun isn’t hiding behind deep gloomy clouds that weep for days on end. The ground is tired and brown, branches are drooping and broken. Every part of the land is struggling and beaten down by Winter’s travails, and it show.

Some people say Spring has energy. I disagree. Spring is the anxious season. It has a lot to do, and not much time to get it all done, and its approach is helter-skelter and disorganized.
I can sympathize with those growing pains, and I willingly nurture the earth through the awkwardness of this season, but  I’ll only be able to admire it when it matures into Summer’s verdant exuberance.

I would be a lousy parent, huh? There are reasons I own cats. I know my limits.

I’m glad Spring is here, but I’m ready for it to get to work and grow up.

By K. M. Herkes

Author, gardener, and cat wrangler.

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