February 19, 2019

Year In, Year Out, Spring Brings Much to Do

Flowering plum

Janine Pineo Photo | Flowering plum

• By Janine Pineo •

The whoosh of air caught my attention. Up, down and around I looked as wave after wave of rushing sound washed over me.

Out of the southwest sky they appeared, their W-formation nearly perfect in its execution. Canada geese, a whole gaggle of them, were headed northeasterly across my back yard. Not far above the trees they flew, quietly honking to each other as they sailed along.

“Oh my,” I said, turning slowly as I watched their silhouettes glide across the evening sky. “Oh my.”

It was a sight that would have been unseen if I hadn’t been giving my sister the grand garden tour that evening. And while the geese were in view no more than a few seconds, I relive those moments over and over again, relishing the peace that stole through me as I witnessed another miracle of the world’s reawakening.

Concord grape harvest 2011

Janine Pineo Photo | Concord grape harvest 2011

From the first mist of green stealing across the trees to the amphibious chorus that greets me every night, this season never fails to awe me. For weeks, I’ve been poking around my flower beds, checking on every plant’s progress as though I could will it to sprout then and there. I’ve laughed with glee when discovering shoots of perennials where they shouldn’t be. I’ve chuckled at the emergence of those persistent pansies, valiant little fellows that survived winter and now are blossoming more furiously than those I just planted.

I’ve jumped unexpectedly when crossing paths with my toad, whose return to the back deck last week was much heralded with daily progress reports on where it decided to perch rain or shine. I’ve braved the night life to see young salamanders out for a misty midnight stroll and watched a pair of little frogs wait for the occasional bug to hover under the garage light.

Oh, what joy to spot my first hummingbird of the season; the ruby-throated daredevil zipped up to a pheasant’s eye narcissus and then away it sped. Thank goodness I’ve already bought fuchsias for the teensy speed demons.

Patiently — sort of — I waited for the honeysuckle to leaf out. Eagerly I watched the row of Johnny-jump-ups, started from seed last summer, emerge and burst into bloom, their pert faces turned to catch the morning sun. Anxiously I checked, and checked again, the tiny, transplanted twigs of old-fashioned roses that long ago were started by my great-grandmothers, relief sweeping through me at the first leaf signs.

Gamboling about the back yard with the dogs led me to discover the first violets in early May. They carpeted the lawn, invaded the gardens and added color where there was but a sickly green. And if I looked closely (or simply wore my glasses), there, peeking out of the ground, were wild white violets, so tiny and fragile it seemed the slightest puff of wind would destroy them. Not far away, the trillium nodded about at wood’s edge, with wild lily of the valley carpeting the ground at its feet.

The scents have had my senses reeling. The pansies are in full perfume, their delicate scent wafting around the front yard. I’ve come close to hyperventilating on hyacinths, not to mention the flowering plums. Then there are the daffodils, nameless varieties with nameless scents that remind me of something — what was its name?

I’m delighting in pawing through the dirt, finding chubby worms and turning myself into an escapee from a mud bath. I’ve planted new perennials, put together raised beds for strawberries, placed the first grapes in my petite vineyard, and started my own briar patch — raspberry-flavored.

In between everything, I’ve darted into greenhouses, buying more than I should and probably more than one grown woman could plant in a year (what kind of lunatic would buy 20 flats of pansies?). Then I keep the plants-in-waiting watered and sheltered and in sun or out, until the weather or workday cooperates long enough for me to get them in the ground.

But every so often, I sit down.

And listen.

And breathe deeply.

And think of absolutely nothing.

And peer at the clouds or off into the trees.

Then a black fly nabs me, and I’m up and running again.

Spring. It overwhelms me.

First published in the Bangor Daily News in May 1995.

2012 update: As you can see by the photo of the grapes, the vines took and have been producing a decent crop for several years. And the flowering plum is pictured in delicious bloom from near the middle of last month, earlier than ever due to the strange spring weather this year.