For most of my life, I have not been particularly excited about Spring. Perhaps it has to do with being an academic. Whether you are a student, facing final exams that could determine your future, or the teacher with piles of exams and stacks of term papers to plow through before an unreasonably short deadline, Spring can be a stressful and hectic season--not one to encourage baby plants.
Growing up in Ohio also introduced me to how dirty piles of slush can be by April. When we lived in Panama City Beach, Spring only meant hordes of drunken spring-breakers. Moving to Ontario for four years brought no relief--no college students tearing up the countryside but that was because it was still buried in snow. Then came the real heart-breaker--Colorado. The weather warmed, we gave into the impulse to plant something, and then would come the inevitable snowstorm, measured not in inches but in feet. We learned to move part of the woodpile into the garage so that we could access enough to keep a fire going when the power went out for days. Even my birthday in May was usually cancelled because of blizzards.
But now -- finally -- in my dotage -- I'm finding real pleasure in springtime. The azaleas growing outside my living room window have been in full blaze for the past three weeks and show no signs of fading yet. I adore opening the shutters every morning to a blanket of pink and coral. The real test, however, comes right outside my front door. Because I live in a condo community with full lawn and garden service, we are not allowed to plant anything. Now, don't get me wrong. I love those fellows who show up regularly to mow, weed, rake, and trim the bushes. But the inborn impulse to plant something is still strong. So I make do with a grouping of pots, which is allowed (within reason).
Yesterday was gardening day and I loved every muscle-straining moment of it. I was at the garden shop early in the morning (as was a good portion of the total population of Memphis!), because it was the first guaranteed frost-free weekday of the year. A quick survey of the front porch before I set out had revealed that much of last year's crop had survived the winter. My summer mums and pansies already had new buds and blossoms. Chives, parsley, oregano, and thyme were not only alive, they were already filling their pots -- the thyme so vigorous that I could not lift the pot because its roots had grown through the drainage holes into the surrounding grass. I had a lot of picking and choosing to get through.
I came home with a big bush tomato plant, eight basil plants, and a geranium to fill the last few sunny spots at the edge of the porch. For the porch itself, almost always in the shade, I picked up some lobelias and impatiens to plant around my little potted juniper bush and a huge Boston fern for the table. (I wanted a small one, but they evidently don't come in size small!)