view counter

I need Home and Garden helpers

Mother Nature’s Got the Jump on Me
You and I will find them in this Bay Weekly

“I’m in energy,” said the woman seated to my right at the long table where she and I, strangers heretofore, made conversation.
    “Ah, so you’re following in Mother Nature’s footsteps,” I replied.
    Magnetic energy — and no, not the kind new age healers use — was my table companion’s current favorite energy source, followed by geothermal.
    Wood, coal, hydrokinetic, atomic, nuclear, natural gas, waste solids, methane, geothermal, magnetic, sun or wind: None of the energy sources we humans harness compares with the sheer force of Mother Nature. If we could walk in her footsteps, our energy problems would be solved.
    The proof of Mother Nature’s indefatigable energy is all around us this time of year, when she’s full speed ahead.
    We’re experiencing spring in double time and double abundance. So extraordinary is Spring, 2012 that I’ve been keeping track.
    For their centennial year, cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., came early, and they came fat. The five-leaved petals were huge, and the millions of blossom clusters were each as full as a cherry sno-cone before the first bite was taken. Walking the path around the Tidal Basin was like walking in a cloud forest.
    Every cherry tree in Chesapeake Country was so inspired to its ideal of pale pink perfection.
    Tulip magnolias were not to be outdone, opening their tender, long-petaled pink-purple cups to compete with bigger flowers and lascivious colors. Mother Nature is no Puritan.
    When the winds came, cherry snow fell in blizzards, and lawns were carpeted in magnolia. Mother Nature is casual in her gorgeous excess.
    Yellow is pouring from fountains of forsythia; its spilled drops color the daffodils so bright the sunshine is embarrassed to fall on them. Daffodils come on their irrepressible own, in so many colors it takes a spectrum to contain them and in so many shapes that the bells of musical instruments must have been made on their model.
    Then there are the dandelions, already nodding their heedless yellow heads in confidence of inheriting the world.
    Mother Nature is not selective in her breeding. She loves weeds like dandelions and tangly vines like multiflora rose best of all, I think, and her love has taken root. Lush clumps of chicory and plantain, bouquets of chickweed, fountains of seed-shooting cress, creeping speed weed are out-competing grass that is itself so thick and healthy that the cuttings of a field could be baled like hay.
    Purple has been rushing to keep up, with periwinkle and Scylla, grape hyacinth and now violets. Wisteria and lilac should be weeks away, but their deep, nascent purples are pushing through the green bud covers.
    It’s a jungle out there, with flowers, shrubs and trees as loud as the birds, who are as loud as howler monkeys, and frogs, whose love calls keep me awake at night.
    Energy is throbbing throughout nature this time of year. Has science measured what the power it takes for a single tree to break out in leaves? Especially a giant tree, like the two maples that surround my house.
    Stupidly, I think of them as stable, static, dumb, when in fact they are forces of nature. In transformation from sleep to waking, they’ve produced a harvest of blossoms that, were it valued like corn or soybeans, would be red gold. Following soon are equal volumes of helicopter seeds. The baby leaves now opening will be big as my hands in a week.
    Nature’s energy is so vast I need a poet to help me imagine it. Every year at this time, Dylan Thomas reminds me it’s the force that through the green fuse drives the flower …
    Keeping track of spring, as I have done for history and for pleasure, is the easy part.
    The harder part is keeping up, and that I haven’t done. I’m a slacker in the wake of Mother Nature, who is even more awesome than was my mother in what she could do while I watched in (as my mother said) lazy wonder.
    Last year’s harvest of maple leaves has still to be raked, plus this year’s blossoms and seeds. The pruners have to be sharpened before they’re any good for cutting, yet there are canes that need trimming, bushes that need fighting and shrubberies that have to go. The grass is likely to devour the mower, and the weeds are taller still.
    Spring is so far ahead of me that I cling to this year’s Home and Garden Guide like salvation.
    For starters, I pray for Dr. Glass to make a house call. With a power washer, please, to deliver my metal roof and decks from the gifts of the maple tree. Then — well, I’ve made my list of Home and Garden helpers I’ll be calling.
    It’s time for me to leave you to your own list.