I have a theory about spring.
Spring is a con. Sure, there’s all this wonderful stuff going on as the world comes to life. Renewed perennials are peeking through warming soil. Chickens are scratching up bugs and the year’s first weeds. And, every day, you’re just grateful that it isn’t quite so cold.
But it’s all misdirection. The point of spring isn’t to renew the world. The point of spring is to get you to do week after week of backbreaking labor. McCormick, the God of Seasons, knows it’s impossible to get you to do it in the summer – the kids are out of school and the weather’s too nice. Fall, there’s too much other stuff going on as the kids go back to school and the holidays approach. Winter’s a non-starter. So that leaves spring.
“I know,” says McCormick, “I’ll make the air smell good and the sun shine just enough so everyone wants to go outside. Then, when they go outside, they’ll see all the jobs they have to get done and they just won’t be able to help themselves.” Then he adds, “Heh heh.”
Exhibit A is raking. We live on two acres populated primarily by deciduous trees. Who decided deciduousness was a good idea, I don’t know, but I have a bone to pick with him. Some time in October, the leaves start coming down, but I do only minimal leaf-management at that time of the year, on the principle that the leaves just keep coming, so what’s the point. All fall, there’s a reasonably clear 100-foot circle in front of the house, with the outdoor electrical outlet at its center. The circumference is easy to see – it’s a big circle of leaves, pushed only as far as the 50-foot extension cord takes the electric blower.
I do this on the theory that the leaves break down, at least a little, over the winter, and the job is more manageable in the spring. In November, this is an excellent theory. In April, it looks much less compelling.
Then there’s the garden. Before you even start, you have to clear away last year’s debris (a job postponed on the raking principle). Then there’s amending. Because we live on sand, we have to bring in compost literally by the trailerload. We’re fortunate in that our town has a composting program, and the compost is free for the shoveling for a few weeks in the spring. But shoveling is even worse than raking, and it has to happen twice – first into the trailer, and then out again. All this in service of the flowers that bloom in the spring. Well, tra fucking la.
Then there’s the oyster farm. We buttoned it up in January, and now we have to unbutton it. There are some 300 trays, each weighing about 10 pounds, that have to be cleaned up and taken out, in a boat that holds about thirty. There are the oysters we left out over the winter, that have to be culled and distributed. There are 2000 pounds of year-old oysters, divided into 437 bags, that have to be taken out of the refrigerator they overwintered in and taken out to the farm.
We have to dust off the brooder, because we’re getting a few more chickens. We have to shore up the fences, because we’re (thinking about) getting a few more pigs. And we have to design a crazy new irrigation system for the hoophouse!
Okay, that last one’s optional, and there’s no ‘we’ about it. Kevin decided that standing in the hoophouse with a hose was an inefficient way to water, and he had a better idea. When Kevin has a better idea and sets off for Home Depot, I know not to interfere. I headed out in the other direction, in search of garden supplies.
When I came home, he was almost finished. He’d bought the kind of irrigation equipment that usually runs underground, with little spigots that poke out, and installed it from the ceiling in the hoophouse. He fine-tuned the spigots so they reached every corner of the interior, and we can turn the whole thing on with the flip of a switch. It’s pretty much genius.
McCormick has bamboozled us into getting most of the spring work done, but warmth and sunshine aren’t the only tricks he has up his sleeve. The spring striped bass run also falls under the jurisdiction of the God of Seasons, and we figure that, if we work hard, and give thanks for warmth and sunshine, we’ll be rewarded with excellent fishing.
That’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it.
If you listen to Tennyson, you know that spring is the time when a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love. It was smart of Tennyson to focus on the young when it comes to the thinking that happens in spring, because we older folk have much less poetic concerns. For starters, there’s the giant mud pit in the driveway, created by a combination of the weekend’s downfall and the snow melt from last week’s blizzard. There are seeds to be started, fig trees to be unwrapped, and a … [Read More...]
It was just over two months ago that Kevin and I took last season’s last trip out to the oysters. We had taken in almost all the equipment, and the last job was consolidating the 10,000 almost-legal oysters into densely packed trays, pushed deep into the ground. We take our equipment in because ice in Barnstable Harbor destroys everything in its path. We leave 10,000 almost-legal oysters out because we have 10,000 almost-legal oysters, and taking a chance on a spring season is worth the … [Read More...]
It has been a brutal winter here on Cape Cod. Or at least that’s what my friends tell me. Kevin and I missed most of it by absconding to Austin, Texas, where the sun shone almost every day, and temperatures were usually in the 70s. I don’t expect sympathy. We learned a few things while we were down there (I mean besides the one big thing, which is that, come February, it’s way better to be in Texas than Massachusetts), and I figure if I tell you about them I can go a long way toward … [Read More...]
I’m suspicious of emotions. Always have been. Seems to me they’re more likely to make you say the wrong thing, date the wrong guy, or believe the wrong idea than they are to bring you joy, give you peace, or improve you in any way. The downside of anger, jealousy, and distress vastly outweighs the upside of joy, contentment, and compassion. At least I’ve always thought so. I’ve discovered, though, by asking friends a rather peculiar question, that I’m probably in the minority. … [Read More...]
I’ve got a question. What was the most important invention of the 20th century? There’s a lot to choose from. There are the usual suspects, like the airplane, the computer, or the Internet, but picking one of those gives short shrift to the many other standouts that help get us through each day – starting when you get dressed, as zippers and Velcro were vast improvements over buttons. As you make yourself some scrambled eggs, take a moment to give thanks for Teflon, the first of the … [Read More...]