Well! You all know the Midwest suffered through the worst Winter in (my) recorded history this past year, right? After not one but TWO Polar Vortexes ..with deadly cold draping itself over us like an icy dragon…Nature decided to reward us with a real Spring. Warm days become coolish nights, with that wet greenness that only happens in April and May, when Spring decides to put in an appearance, beating Summer back to its appropriate venue. This Spring has been slow in coming, with bulbs taking their sweet time showing up…trees looking pretty lifeless…then, all of a sudden…BLAM-O! A full riot of sights and smells! I remember, back when I was about 14-15 yrs old, there was a maple tree on the parkway, three houses down. For months it’d lain dormant and it looked as if it would never even bud, let alone leaf out for the Season. I passed that tree at least twice a day, not giving it much thought. One day, though, in late May…I’d passed it and was suddenly aware of a ‘disturbance in the Force’ – I looked back and nearly jumped out of my teeth! That tree was in full leaf! Trees are funny like that, verrra sneaky. So, watch it!
I was going to write this really in-depth post about Spring frags but then I took Bruno (who says “hey”) out for a walk…and I realized: Spring, done right? It’s its own perfume curio cabinet. The moderate temps have allowed those lilac buds to open slowly – something about that intensifies the aroma, I think. They waft on the breeze and just delight the senses. Usually I cut a few branches but this Spring I’m leaving all of them on their bushes. It’s just too lovely to watch them dance and sway in the light Spring winds.
At the onset of Spring, when the grass was just coming out of dormancy, we had a surfeit of rain. So no one could cut theirs, not even my OCD neighbor (and no, I’m not dissing him – I love looking out at his perfect lot (I don’t think he uses pesticides, just cuts it – a lot). There’s a curious sense of calm in his cutting ritual – as long as he’s out there on Saturday or Sunday I know North Korea has not fired off a serious WMD and the zombies have not invaded Des Moines. All is right with our little corner of the world. This weekend everyone in town cut their grass. Alas, that rich ‘just-cut grass’ smell usually eludes me, so I don’t really get the olfactory jolt that so many of you rave about but this year I did get a bit more of the not-quite-hay richness…and it is sublime!!!
Plum blossoms. Not the fruit tree…those purply-red tree bushes that Japanese Beetles love to devour. In blossom they have a faint Spring aroma. They don’t smell like anything in particular – they just smell like Spring.
Viburnum. That astonishing scent that one can never directly access, viburnum packs such a powerful punch….but it can only be enjoyed on the breeze. Stick your nose directly in a Miss Kim? Nothing. At least for me. And Miss Kim will further punish you by short-circuiting your scent receptors so you can’t smell anything else.
Dirt. Spring. Right there. My Mother’s Day present to me was a day spent hoeing up 500+ morning glory seedlings, then getting the beds ready for the tomatoes and veg. The first veg garden is adjacent to the coop and during the Winter I had nowhere to throw their detritus except over the fence into the corner of that walled garden. Hey! Don’t judge. Waist-high snow on top of more snow…with -40F temps? ….anyway…there was a LOT of chicken poop in that corner. Talks with other gardeners confirmed what I was fearing – that much nitrogen would mean a 20′ tomato plant – and no fruit! So I thought…’hey! what about something you WANT a lot of leaves from?’ so I planted an experimental patch of collards. Won’t it be fun if they grow to 6′ tall! And that poop has cured enough that it doesn’t smell chicken-y anymore.
Planting peppers. I overwintered some jalapenos, which bore some great fruit. I harvested them, cut the plants back and am now putting them in the ground. Whew! The juicy, thick root system is full of the pickley-prickley smell of dirt infused with pimiento. The roots smell similar to the teeny little blossoms , right as the fruit is starting to emerge. Those little fruits are HOT!
The wind. The rain. The rainy wind. The ozone that presages a storm. Repotting herbs on the breezy front porch. Hummingbirds, returning to the traplines (okay – they don’t smell…but …they are Spring!
What’s smelling Spring! in your corner of the world (unless you’re upside down from us, in which case it’s Winter)? And wth is up with Solange Knowles? I don’t know anything about these folks but….wow! That was some ca-RAAAZAY!