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Sore muscles, sweet smell of early spring

I’m writing to you on one of those wonderful days we are blessed with every so often. It is mid-March and the temperature is 69 with a very slight breeze. The sky, so often gray this time of year, is bright blue with only a welcoming wisp of a white cloud now and then. It feels like heaven after a winter of ice storms, cold temperatures and harsh winds.
A day like today gives the feeling that it would be almost sacrilegious to stay inside and one would be smote if they lounged in front of the television.
Early this morning, when I first looked out the window, I saw a generous haven for pent-up yearnings to work in the yard. Blown leaves hugged the side of the house, small branches littered the yard and winter-weary plants called to be replaced by foliage that looked like life was still around. I couldn’t wait to dig out my old gardening shoes and a prestained sweatshirt. Indeed, this gal was going to overhaul her yard, her spirits and her body.
I raced to the hardware store down the street and gladly handed over cash for those ethereal first pansies on the market. I felt fortunate that all my planter boxes needed fresh soil, allowing me to get right into that marvelous earth and smell its promise of nourishment for growth.
I filled almost three large trash cans with brown, dried stalks left over from last summer. Stuffing those ‘has-been’ stems into a bin for disposal felt good and would have been totally satisfying if I could have purposely placed them into a compost pile. But even on a perfect weather day, everything isn’t in harmony.
As the sun sets now, the clock reads rather late, as daylight-saving time rode in as I slept last night. I hear the wind kick up, reminding me that this is not the real beginning of spring, but just a teaser to keep me going.
My yard does look better after the hours spent here, but I fell short of what I dreamed of accomplishing this morning. It rained off and on, and I did wise up and go in the house a few times. I must admit, I felt rather grateful for those minutes of being forced to shut down; I got tired sooner than I wished. There was some solace in remembering that even as a young woman, I would feel like collapsing after the first day of gardening each spring. There just doesn’t seem to be the same opportunities to use muscles and gain strength doing laundry and running the vacuum in a winter house.
I can’t help but see a parallel between the fading in my winter garden and the withering of our international economy. After all, both held such promise only months ago and now finish their growth cycle with wilted results and unfulfilled dreams. Our garden and our economy both need the dead stuff culled out.
Just as I had hopes of doing so much today in my garden, so many had plans that didn’t reach fulfillment, such as owning a home, advancing to a better job, retiring or attending a great university. Maybe looking to the lessons of nature is a helpful road in these unsettled economic times. We certainly have clues of late that our fate is indeed intertwined with the environment.
I really don’t want to go inside now, but it is cooling a bit as the sun lowers, and just sitting still is a bit chilly. Again, I must be honest with myself, I am pooped and there is a bit of relief that I can blame my withdrawal from this beautiful outside on a condition that did not come from my lack of appreciation for the wonderment of such a day. That kitchen warmth will feel welcome after sitting on this made-for-summer metal chair I have been occupying. Let’s hope I also can become aware of the delight of that inside environment.
Oh, what a gift it is to be opened-eyed to the good things in our world. I think it is a learned skill, as well as a God-sent gift. These ‘good things’ arise during harsh, changing experiences, as well as calming peaceful hours. As the long-awaited buds begin to pop out around us, I do hope within us grows a whopping appreciation for each hour.