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Surplus blue

The neighborhood rumbled awake today, power mowers roaring out of hibernation to grumble about yard work season being under way.

This past week was the countdown to today:

Wednesday night the peepers began to sing, one here, three there. Then rain Thursday, followed by a Friday dawn smelling funky-fresh of life, the driveway squiggled with earthworms no longer than two knuckles, spaghetti-ing across the concrete. Last night sang a full chorus of peepers, heralding today’s sun and short-sleeved breeze: the unofficial first day of spring, the sky bursting with surplus blue.

The yards on each side of mine are lined with oaks. My neighbors apparently are forbidden by their religion to bear rakes. This, then, is my first chore each spring: to finish what fall started and they didn’t, winter's winds having made my neighbors' leaves mine.

To do this, I push around a big vacuum cleaner that looks like a bagging lawn mower. Front yard and back is a one-day job. Today was that day.

It’s dirty, sweaty, noisy. These leaves have wintered in the lawn, snow jamming them into the wiry grass. Many need to be nudged with a rake, move along, move along please, before the sweeper mulches them into brown confetti.

Today was a simple afternoon, requiring little more than sweat and bandannas, sunglasses, and the odd break for a cold can of Sprite. Seven hours the job took, and when it was done, my shoulders and lower back radiated that good tired ache.

It was done. Everything was put away. A cold beer, a shower, a nap.

I’ve been waiting all winter for today.

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
jdsxcbb
Apr. 7th, 2008 05:12 am (UTC)
If I lived down South, I wouldn't appreciate days like today (that's a point of contention between my roommates and me). I have also been waiting all winter for today.
patrick_vecchio
Apr. 7th, 2008 11:38 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading and commenting. What a treat it was that such a day occurred on a Sunday, when everyone could take some time to enjoy it.
vivitalia
Apr. 7th, 2008 10:16 am (UTC)
magnificently written. Being down south, I can second what jdsxcbb said: I'm missing that rite of passage this year,and didn't realize I would even notice until I read this entry. Thanks for reminding me there is simple beauty in a world waking up.
patrick_vecchio
Apr. 7th, 2008 11:46 am (UTC)
I live seven minutes from the center of town, but after a seven-minute walk from my house, I can be on top of a hill, surrounded by trees, cut off from everything. Or I can be fishing in a trout stream that's no wider than a large brook, the sound of the stream filling my ears. Those things, and days like the one I wrote about, are what root me here.

I hope all is well with you, Lizz. Thanks for reading and commenting.
cwmackowski
Apr. 7th, 2008 05:42 pm (UTC)
Groovy!
nodressrehersal
Apr. 8th, 2008 01:19 am (UTC)
Surplus blue and long overdue... isn't it amazing just how rejuvenating a day like that can be?

We got out there a bit on Sunday too, and boy, oh boy, did it feel glorious. For me, it's the first fully unaccountantly tax season. Nothing like the satisfaction of a 7-hour day; I hope to get in a good 3-4 hour cleanup day soon.

We went out for a half hour tonight and cleared a leaf-filled corner. It's amazing what's coming to life under it all.

My favorite line: My neighbors apparently are forbidden by their religion to bear rakes.
patrick_vecchio
Apr. 8th, 2008 01:28 am (UTC)
Something told me you were out under the same sun.

I have got a major project I can't wait to get at: rip out the last of the original landscaping that goes front-to-back along the east end of the house, then re-landscape it. I'm talking about tearing out yews, Canadian hemlock, etc., so it'll be heavy-duty digging and axe-work, not to mention a muddy, dirty mess.

Like I said, I can't wait.
nodressrehersal
Apr. 8th, 2008 01:44 am (UTC)
Remind me which side is east, garage side or non-garage side? And to that I'll add, holy cow. That's a big deal. What have you got in mind for replacement stuff, anything specific yet?

You know what amazes me about this time of year? How you can open a few windows just a crack and the house is filled with the smell of spring... every bit as much as the outside smells, I love that fresh-air inside smell.
patrick_vecchio
Apr. 8th, 2008 05:14 am (UTC)
That's the garage side. All I'm seeing so far is a Japanese maple just past the side door to the garage to tie in with the one out front. Probably some day lillies and irises too. As for the rest, I'll probably just stick the credit card in my pocket and head for Bockmier's; they're great both in terms of selection and, most important, advice.

nodressrehersal
Apr. 8th, 2008 11:23 am (UTC)
Our garage side has the walkway to the back, and there's an 18" wide stretch of garden that goes the length, so I make that visually appealing. Our other side is one that's more just kept up for the neighbor to see (plus is visible from the street/sidewalk) so it's simply the shrubs that were there when we bought the house.

They get attacked with something I need to use an oil spray on. It's a bug and not a disease (I think) but it practically turns the bark white and saps the green right out of the leaves. (I need to look this up. I sound like such a non-gardener right now. And for the life of me, I can't even think of the name of the shrubs. Damn brain holes...)
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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