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Digging into spring


I wanted to forget winter, but the earth reminded me otherwise.

Perhaps I was foolish to think it was the time to plant the dahlias, but sun drenched the yard Saturday and in years past I’ve planted the tubers as early as March.

I found the green plastic box filled with sawdust where I’d left it in a corner of the cellar. Packing the tubers in sawdust had been the right move. In prior years after unearthing them I shook off the loose dirt and stored them in a box. Usually, by the following spring about a third of them had dried up. But in a bed of sawdust the tubers survived and, in fact, the box was filled with white shoots in obvious search of the sunlight we all have craved.

Ollie was interested. He sniffed over the container and waited to see if I’d let him join me for the yard work. Of course that was my plan. I couldn’t leave him to his sun chair, his favorite winter aerie from a second floor window where he can keep watch on the neighbors and catch the rays. Here was the chance to get out without the worry of either being soaked or frozen.

Ollie was ready. He bounded out, no longer curious as to what I was doing. He started his yard check, surely deciphering the scents to know what form of critter had visited the premises. He’s a hound and rarely lifts his head, intently focused on his mission.

I headed to the garden to turn the soil. The shovel bit into the earth turning up a few thick lazy worms. They barely moved. Also unearthed were white plastic spoons and knives I had used in years prior to mark where I’d planted dahlias. They would get recycled.

The sun was warm. There was just a breath of wind. Ollie completed his rounds. He stood on the lawn, not watching anything in particular, soaking it in. I called. Maybe if I had a stick he would want to play. He looked in my direction but didn’t move, intoxicated by the moment, or more likely just being independent as he often is.

I went back to planting the dahlias, digging holes into which I positioned tubers. Then came the time to get my hands dirty. I pushed the piled soil into the holes packing it in. To my surprise it was cold, a reminder that not all that long ago the ground was still frozen.

A plastic knife or spoon marked each plant so, when it came time to plant zinnias and marigolds, Carol would know where not to dig. We were prepared for spring. Well, at least one garden was ready.

I still had a handful of tubers that I took along with the shovel to my neighbors, Roger and Betty. They weren’t home, but I know where she likes them so I planted them. It couldn’t have taken ten minutes.

On the return I found Ollie grazing on a few green shoots of grass. He sniffed them carefully before making a selection. What is it that compels dogs to eat grass?

Sticks and leaves littered the lawn. I had found my next task, although there was more to do than I had time for. I went to work, soon shedding my jacket. What a wonderful reminder of spring.

After the second barrel of sticks and leaves, I looked for Ollie. He wasn’t chewing grass. I whistled and called. He didn’t come, but that’s not unusual. If it had been dinnertime that might have been another story.

I found him in the bushes digging. He was into it. There was a pile of dirt and he was standing in the hole. He looked up. He was content. So was I.


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