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Soaking in Spring

I’m letting Spring seep into my mind and body. 

            When I got my 2022 At-a-Glance calendar, I drew a big smiley sun face on March 20th.  Here in Middle Tennessee, Spring officially begins at 12:33 P.M. when the vernal equinox marks a time that the direct rays of the sun produce equal day and night. 

            I was taught that on the first days of Spring and Fall the hours of daylight and darkness are twelve hours each.  While that’s not exactly correct, it’s within minutes.  Here in Cookeville, on Sunday, March 20, the sun will rise at 6:50 a.m. and set at 6:58 p.m.  Until June 20, we’ll have sunshine a few minutes longer each day and I’ll track those minutes.    

            Spring brings brightness, a welcomed contrast to winter’s gray and brown.  Yellow daffodils bloom and, even after last week’s snow and frigid temperatures, many still hold their heads high. Because the forsythia bush is my favorite springtime marker and I know where several are blooming, I drive out of my way around town to see them.  Unfortunately, dandelions the weeds I hate most, also bloom so I dig up every one that is near my yard.  

            The world is taking on a vibrant green and soon we can smell the fresh cut grass aroma after lawns are mowed.  Buds swell at the ends of tree and shrub branches, waiting for a few days of warmth and sunshine to unfurl leaves.  Soon blooms on strawberry plants and blueberry bushes promise fresh juicy fruits.

            Anyone who has lived or lives on a farm knows babies are born in the Spring.  For years, my brother’s mare Pepper had a spring colt.  Another mare, a short-timer in my childhood family’s barn, gave birth to Hey Boy and then refused to let him nurse.  That’s a story for another time.

            Papa’s cow birthed twin calves the spring I was 10 and Mom picked me up from school right after lunch so I could watch the newborns come into the world.  Every March, Granny bought baby chicks and those lightweight fluff balls were fun to play with until they began to peck.

             Spring is when gardeners seriously dig in the dirt, first turning the soil to mix the organic matter and letting it absorb more oxygen and dry out for later planting.  Even that earthy, woodsy smell is welcomed. 

            Through windows, I’ve watched birds at birdfeeders all winter, and now I hope bluebirds will build a nest in our backyard bird box.  Soon I’ll hang hummingbird feeders to entice them to sip sugar water and chatter on our front porch.

            Even though it takes a few days to adjust to Daylight Savings Time, I’m happy for more daylight at the end of a day.  It gives time for front porch rocking for Husband and me and longer times for our Grands and neighborhood children to play outside after supper.

            Spring brings brightness and growth and newness. Soak it in. 

Yellow Spring Blooms – Not all good

Yellow announces spring. Forsythia, with long flowing branches covered in tiny horn-shaped blossoms, promise warmer days. If I had only one bush in my yard, it’d be forsythia, never trimmed except for dead branches and those that cross another branch.

Bright golden daffodils scream loudest. A. A. Milne wrote “A house with daffodils in it is a house lit up, whether or no the sun be shining outside.” Milne also said, “Daffodils in a green bowl – and let it snow if it will.” Maybe that’s the origin of the warning to watch out for snow on daffodils.

Some daffodils now hang their heads after enduring snow showers and freezing temperatures. A few gave up and fell to the ground promising yellow next spring. I drive out of my way to go by a house on Hudgens Street that has a bed of daffodils with orange centers. It’s my “spring fix” every day.

As much as I love yellow spring flowers, there is one I hate. A round, one-inch, flat flower grows in the center of the world’s ugliest plant. Yellow flowers that bloom at the same time as forsythia and daffodils. Yellow flowers that dot lawns and fields. Yellow flowers that become a child’s toy to blow.

I hate dandelions. Hate the sprawling ground-hugging prickly leaves. Hate the white, fuzzy seeds that fly. Dandelions challenge me to dig them up. There is nothing reasonable about how much I hate these yellow flowers. They are just a weed. A daisy’s cousin. But they spread like wildfire when those round tufts of fluffy seeds are carried by wind or someone blowing on them.

I think I blew dandelion seeds once, as a young child. Mom took the stem from my hand and whatever she said made such an impression that I never did it again. And although it wasn’t said, I knew Mom thought a yard filled with dandelions belonged to someone who was lazy and had no pride. Digging up dandelions was one of the few chores that I got paid for. I quickly learned that I had to dig up long taproots. No roots, no money.

During a weekend teacher environmental conference many years ago, I was given a bucket and told to collect my lunch from the field. A field of weeds.  Some people marveled at the tender dandelion leaves they picked. And they dug the roots to brew tea. I couldn’t do it. Why would I want prickly leaves in my mouth? (I did discover that clover is quite tasty and tender.) And I’ll stick with Earl Gray tea, thank you.

Supposedly, there’re benefits to ingesting dandelions. Improved digestion. Laxative. Relieve joint pain. But there are countless other things I can eat and drink that will give the same results. And I’d never spend $6.49 for sixteen dandelion teabags!

I treasure yellow daffodils and forsythia blooms. There’s only one good thing about dandelions: I get to dig in the dirt.