Achoo! It always happens in the spring. I’m gung-ho to rake the winter detritus off the flower beds when I am attacked by microscopic beings intent on making my life miserable. But I soldier on and keep raking, fertilizing and watching the daffodil buds swell before my eyes. After a few hours of work, the yard is starting to look presentable. Achoo!
Now that every muscle and joint in my body aches, I am ready for some serious napping. Curling up on the sofa with my stash of pillows, I am all set for dreamland. Cough! Cough! There is a tickle in the back of my throat and every time I lie down, it makes me cough. This will never do. In frustration I get out of my nest and head for my favorite armchair. It has a high back which will support my head and neck should I choose to snooze.
No go. When I start to nod off, I start to cough. What is plan C? I’ll just make a cup of tea and try to alleviate the sandpaper-feeling in my throat. I have a great selection of herbal teas and the lemon soother will definitely do the trick.
It does, for about 10 minutes, just enough time to get comfy again, and then -- hack, hack, hack! In desperation, I pile up more pillows on the sofa, so that I am propped up almost to a sitting position. I get out a bag of fruit-flavored vitamin C drops and a bottle of water. I will get some shut-eye or die trying.
Now that I’m rested, it’s time for another battle in the yard, armed only with a rake and a garbage pail. Removing layers of crumbly brown leaves from another section of flower bed is like an archaeological dig. Tiny green shoots are already pushing up through the cold, wet ground, working their magic from somewhere deep within the earth. Seeing those first whispers of spring makes me redouble my efforts to clean up the yard. If those plants can survive another winter of being frozen and weighted down with snow, I can make it to the end of the row.
Resting on my rake, I look back to the bed I uncovered only two days before. The strawberry plants are starting to green-up and the clumps of daffodils are 6 inches taller. The queen of this bed, the French pink pussy willow is opening its catkins to the sun. Pussy willow isn’t showy the rest of the year; but it is the first thing to sprout when the temperatures are still below freezing, and those soft blobs of life are magnificent. When I was young, we went looking for wild pussy willows in the spring along narrow country roads edging wetlands. Clipping a few branches to put on the table for Easter, along with a forced branch of forsythia is my own horticultural symbol of resurrection and renewal.
I wish I felt as positively about dandelions. I’ve already had one cheeky creature pop out right next to the back door, and push out its first flower stalk. Then I weeded dozens of the interlopers from my raised vegetable beds. I’ve tried cooking and eating the greens, but they are just too bitter for my taste.
There are signs of sprouting where I planted my peas and lettuce. They will soon be joined by the dozens of plants I have started from seed on the windowsill. I always buy too many seeds, but now that my sons have their own gardens, I can share the bounty with them. I’m glad the love of growing things has been passed to another generation. That is truly another sign of resurrection and renewal.
Anne Horrigan Geary is a regular Eagle contributor.