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Springtime reflex
April 13, 2015
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by Ivan Raconteur

I was scanning newspaper headlines in the employee lounge when I suddenly found myself engrossed in an ad insert.

Before I knew it, I was comparing lawn mower models, checking out the latest lawn and garden tools, and comparing prices on plants and shrubs.

There is nothing unusual about that.

A lot of people get excited about lawn and garden items at this time of year.

The thing that makes it slightly unusual in my case is that I don’t own a yard.

The postage stamp-size patch of grass in front of the bachelor pad barely qualifies as a yard, and even that is mowed and tended by someone else.

As far as I can recall, I haven’t even touched a lawn mower in the past five years or so.

I definitely don’t have a garden.

As a matter of fact, I don’t even have a window box.

In light of this information, I suppose it’s fair to say there isn’t much point in me studying a lawn and garden ad.

A lawn mower would be a really impractical purchase for someone in my position.

About the only way I could justify buying a weed trimmer would be if I could figure out how to use it as a musical instrument.

Garden tools are cool, but I have to admit they aren’t much good for anything other than actual gardening.

I suppose I could buy some plants, but I don’t know what I would do with them.

Maybe I could get some of those hanging baskets, or a planter or two to park on the pavement near my front door.

That might at least give the illusion of bringing nature closer to home.

Since there doesn’t seem to be any practical reason for my looking at lawn and garden items, I suppose I have to consider that it was just a matter of habit.

For years, I did own a yard. A big one. I had plenty of space, and an abundance of good soil.

Every spring, when the garden ads began to appear, I would seize them and pore over them as I planned my campaign for the summer ahead.

Often, I began this process even before the snow had melted. This is Minnesota, after all.

I would spend my Saturday mornings in stores and garden centers, acquiring all the tools and supplies I would need to create a fabulous outdoor environment.

It was an annual rite of spring.

After a long, cold winter, it was an activity that promised warm days and plenty of sunshine ahead.

It is important to note, however, that I was an expert at planning, not at execution.

As much as I enjoy the idea of an elaborate, well-maintained garden, and a neatly-manicured lawn, the reality is that achieving my grand visions has always been hampered by certain basic facts.

Chief among these is that I am lazy.

When I say lazy, I mean seriously lazy. I’m a loafer of epic proportions. I can watch people work in a garden all day, but when it comes to crawling around on my hands and knees and yanking stubborn weeds out of the ground, I have an attention span that is shorter than the list of honest men in Congress.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy gardening. It’s just that I enjoy it for very short intervals.

As a result, my enthusiasm carried me through the first glorious weeks of spring every year.

As summer wore on, however, I spent less and less time in the garden, and more time doing other things.

The problem with this, as any gardener knows, is that whether one is spending time in the garden or not, weeds continue to grow, and animals and insects continue to do whatever it is they do.

While I was away at work in the city, rabbits would feast on my vegetables, deer would snack on my corn, and every bird within 20 miles seemed to know exactly when my strawberries reached the peak of ripeness, and they ate more of them than I did.

As a result, an activity that began as a fun and entertaining prospect in those halcyon days of spring was transformed into unpleasant hard labor by the time August arrived.

The funny thing is, when I look back on those days, I remember the fun and excitement more than I remember the hard work and battles with nature.

I remember the feel and smell of the newly-turned soil as I was digging. I recall the sound of the insects and the birds. I remember the perfume of freshly-cut grass drifting on a warm summer breeze, and being immersed in the aroma of the lilac bushes as I paused in my trimming.

I suppose that’s why I still pounce on garden ads with the same enthusiasm I had back then, even though I haven’t had a garden or mowed a lawn in years.

The reality may not have been all I hoped it could be, but the memories are precious.


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