Sunday, March 15, 2009

About the detritus of winter

So today I took a box of daffodil bulbs from the shelf in the garage where it had sat all winter. Certainly I'd meant to plant them in the fall, when bulbs should be planted; indeed, after Angela gave them to me, in September, "plant bulbs" had gone on my to-do list each weekend. 

But somehow fall got away from me, maybe because I'm always in denial--if fall has really come, then it will lead, inevitably, to winter. I'm not fond of winter's long chill, and if I pretend it's not fall yet, perhaps winter will not come, either.

So the bulbs don't get planted.

But the garage is cool, and mostly dark, and that's how bulbs are supposed to be stored. So when a day comes in late winter that feels more like early spring, I think about those bulbs and decided to take a leap of faith, being an optimistic sort, that if I plant them, they will grow.

So I haul the necessary accouterments outside: the bulbs, the trowel, my gardening gloves, a trash can for the detritus of winter that must be moved before things can grow.

And there in the afternoon sun, on the south side of the house, winter--long and gray here in Indiana, frigid and snowy, dangerously icy, welcome long since wore out--disappeared.

I took my clippers and trimmed back the dry, dead leaves from daylillies and roses; scooped up crackly bronze pin oak leaves blown from trees that aren't even in my yard, gathered last year's tomato plants and the fall's chrysanthemums. Gathered them up and threw them away.

Dug my trowel deep in the earth, moist and soft from last week's soakings, and wiggled it around, so I could place each daffodil bulb as deep as I could, shoving it down with my fingers, then pressing the dark dirt down gently. 

I've worked on these beds--the horrible plastic-y clay soil is now buried beneath years of black dirt and compost and mulch I've worked in. Every spring, when I plant my marigolds and petunias, tomatoes and peppers, I spread bag after bag of something--anything!--more planting-friendly that that clay. 

I put a dozen in a little front bed, around the crab apple tree, among the daylillies; then another couple dozen in the narrow bed along the south end of the house, where tulips were pushing up and a few brave crocuses already bloomed.

I'd taken off my jacket early in this process; the sun shone strong and warm on my back, and I started to remember what a warmer world felt like.

Not an hour's work, after all--I really did have time to do this last fall. 

It's not guaranteed these bulbs will sprout, given the negligence they've suffered, but I'm feeling optimistic. Some of the bulbs were sprouting a little; I'm thinking they may just keep growing and bloom right when they are supposed to, anyway. 

How tidy the little beds seemed after I was done, all winter's garbage gone. And I felt I'd planted so many mysteries that will make the spring even better than usual: will the bulbs grow? And bloom? And what colors will be where?

So winter left us one March day on Hearthstone Drive; trucked away in a garbage bin. We dug spring up, and resurrected it. Again.

1 comment:

Sheri said...

I am so ready for spring!

That was beautiful by the way . . .