“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
It’s time to get dirty. All those refined images of daffodil faces bobbing sweetly in the golden rays of spring are all well and good, but I think it’s the grubbiness of this time of year that strikes the note of truth. We’re much too clean in winter. How do you get your fingernails dirty in December? Certainly not shoveling snow, a clean job if ever there was one.
This is also the time when memory and faith come into play, now when everything is so resolutely brown. Okay, sure, there are the spots of green, but it’s a tired green, a green that is shrunken and sparse after winter. The leaves on our front bushes are meager indeed, having already had a pre-spring pruning by the hungry deer. And although we raked in the fall, the winter collection of grayish leaves is settled determinedly into all the flower beds. Clearing them out will be a challenging task since we don’t want to tear up the few infinitesimal green shoots of incoming crocuses.
Before the forsythia we have to spy out the other signs of spring. This is the time of year when our sidewalks are no longer pock-marked with patches of ice and mounds of snow. Now they become schizophrenic with parkas, spring jackets, shorts, and running gear, all sharing the same afternoon. The mounds of mulch unloaded by the railroad tracks steaming in the cold morning air have grown from hills to mountains. The finches, truly the most argumentative and disorganized of the bird world, are transforming into bright jewels of red and yellow.
So we consider what to do with the remainder of the wood and kindling stored in the garage to free up the garden cart for other tasks, and decide to have one last fire, when using up the winter fuel means outrunning the onset of warmer weather.