Friday, 21 April 2017

Spring Planting

They say that when the daffodils bloom, it's time to plant chard, spinach, beets, and onions. When the maple trees start to blossom, you plant peas. When the white oak leaves are the size of a cat's ear, you plant potatoes. Beans and cucumbers go in when the apple trees drop their petals. And you set out your tomatoes, melons, and eggplants when the peonies flower (which is always on the Victoria Day weekend, our last-frost date). That's the holiday weekend when gardening centres burst with hopeful shoppers, and everyone is outdoors trimming their grass and spreading mulch. It's as if we all emerge from our cocoons at the same time, and people bask on their front porches, softly fanning new wings.

I've always been impressed with how neat and tidy people keep their yards here. I guess when your summer season is only a couple of months long, you milk it for all it's worth. The sound of lawnmowers revving up is the sure sound of summer. Strangers smile at each other as they pass at the store clutching lawn bags and canvas gloves, as if congratulating each other on surviving yet another winter. There's a collective sigh of relief---and then frenzy to get out into the garden.

To me, the fascinating part of spring is when the hillside at Dundas Street and Mississauga Road suddenly goes from being a non-descript and uniform blah-brown to flaming yellow as the forsythia bursts into blossom. You don't know they are there all year, but for a few exciting weeks in April they make their presence known. It's a brief shout before they fade back into the understory. I planted a forsythia in the backyard and I'm always thrilled at the first shimmer of colour, like a fire about to catch hold of dry twigs. I stand at the kitchen window and let my eyes drink in the colour the same way my skin soaks up the fresh-emerging sun.

Tomorrow is Earth Day and I'm planting... The maple trees are blossoming.

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