May is here, and with it beautiful, sunny shorts and T-shirt weather, a reduced schoolwork load for me (yay!!) ...... and 6 cubic yards of compost (+ 3 of mulch.) That is a lot of wheelbarrow loads.
There are different glimpses of things around me that have stuck in my memory - things that speak loudly of spring:
the subtle but stunning iridescent colour of a starling's wing -
the pink waterfalls of apple blossoms shrouding an the boughs of a gnarled tree -
the tiny sky-blue flowers coming out on the forget-me-nots -
the buzzing bumblebee hanging upside down from a bleeding heart -
the pervasive calm and stillness of a clear evening.
My mom, my brother, and I have been working all weekend to get the compost spread over our garden beds, and to get the garden cleaned up and ready to grow.
Last night I went to sleep with that heavy feeling - as if your limbs are weighed down, and your eyes can't keep from closing - that only comes after long hard work. I realized that I hadn't felt that in quite some time, which is disturbing. My current lifestyle includes far too much sitting at a desk (and often, staring at a screen) and far too little physical activity.
For me, gardening can be an antidote to that - something to get me outdoors, doing something constructive and concrete with my body. Wendell Berry says "a garden restores a body to its usefulness... [it] gives the body the dignity of working in its own support."
I'm not quite sure how heavy sweaty digging is enjoyable to me - it certainly isn't what one would call "fun" - but it nonetheless is immensely satisfying. Perhaps it is the purposefulness behind the work - that it is going towards building something which I love and want to nourish - my garden, which will in turn give back to me with a harvest.
My little seedlings have been hardening off for the last week or so, slowly being acclimatized to life in the big outdoors. The hardier ones (kale, chard, lettuce, and cosmos) spent the last few nights outside - I figured the shock of cold temperatures and the shock of transplanting had best not come all in one blow.
As soon as I have the compost dug into the garden, they'll be planted out. The forecast looks to be pretty consistently above freezing - in fact it seems all of the sudden that the weather's taken a turn towards summer - which is fine by me!
As well, I have a rather unusual story about straw: I was looking for straw to use in my composters which were rather sadly lacking in "brown material" - the drier, carbon rich stuff that needs to be in balance with all the "green stuff" - kitchen scraps, fresh plant matter, and the like, which our kitchen/garden produce in relative abundance.
I mentioned it to my mother in the morning, last weekend. She said she wasn't quite sure how to get ahold of straw right in the middle of the city.
Later that day, she was coming back from a run, a few blocks away from our house, and she saw a man putting (wait for it!) two bales of straw out by the curb. She asked if they were for the taking. He said they were. They'd been sitting in someone's garage for 10 years.
We had a bit of a scare when I asked - "were they straw or hay?". I knew that hay has weed seeds in it and straw doesn't. Problem is I had no idea how to tell which was which.
We drove down anyhow and loaded them in the back of the van. After quite a lot of internet research (and a detour into the land of strawbale building and back), I determined that I did actually have two straw bales!
It was amazing, but bizarre.
After making a rather impressive mess, I managed to wrestle them out back near the bins, and under a tarp, where they are now serving duty as brown matter for my compost piles.
Due to the fact that my brother has managed to loose our downloading cord, there aren't any pictures now, but I hope to add those sometime soon.
Does anyone else images that stick with you as epitomizing springtime? Who else is out, hard at work in their garden? What do you think of Wendell Berry's words?
It's the time of year when time flies by and you can easily miss seeing the wonderful, beautiful changes that are taking place right outside your door (this applies to me just as much as anyone else!) Let's try to remember to stop and watch them, to enjoy them more fully, and to be thankful for them.