Sunday, February 23, 2014

Winter's Last Hurrah

I might be one of the few Pittsburghers not embracing the impending thaw with wistful thoughts of spring. I know I’m freakish in this respect.
It has been a long, cold winter, peppered with snow days, two-hour delays, and polar vortices marching down from the Arctic in an unending parade of Jetstream mayhem. We haven’t seen the boxwoods lining our driveway in weeks, piled over with mound upon mound of dirty, slushy snow, now a couple feet deep. My husband drove into a snowbank the other day to avoid a multi-car collision on his way to work and only got going again due to a determined Good Samaritan. We’re running out of salt, running out of clear parking places, and running out of patience for the cold—and all the fluffy white stuff that goes with it.
I get it. It hasn’t been fun.
But whoever coined the phrase “the lazy days of summer” obviously didn’t own a home in the suburbs.
Weeding. Cutting. Fertilizing. Planting. Mulching.
It seems once the warm weather breaks, all hopes of a lazy weekend curled up with a book and a cup of coffee break with it, replaced by a sort of implied obligation to beautify the yard, or at least keep it from looking like the overgrown, rundown drug hovels you see on the evening news.
In the winter, you can neglect the mess outside. When it’s not hidden by the snow, it’s at least brown and dormant, not causing any real trouble, not looking any worse than anyone else’s brown, dormant patch of the world. No one notices the stray weeds around the edges of the beds that you didn’t pluck last fall or the sparse mulch coverage around the new trees you planted last spring. They’re too busy grumbling about the ice and snow you haven’t removed from the sidewalk (okay, so you do have to do a little something in winter).
But once spring hits, it’s as if a veil is lifted. Suddenly our homes and yards reveal themselves in all their shabby, neglected glory, and we feel a sort of collective urge to roll up our sleeves and get to work, to make our yards look like something akin to the Biltmore grounds (or, at the very least, better than the yards on either side of us). I blame this in no small measure on the barrage of ads we’ll all start to see in a few short weeks showing enthusiastic young couples piling sacks of fertilizer and mounds of colorful flowers onto carts at various home improvement warehouses in an effort to cultivate the most enviable yard on the block.
A yard, I might add, that they will then spend the entire spring, summer, and fall mowing down and throwing away. But I digress.
I do enjoy getting out in the warmth and the sunshine, don’t get me wrong. I love biking, taking walks through my neighborhood, or just watching my kids run around the yard creating kingdoms and performing quests using only their imaginations and their friends. I love riding with the car windows down, blaring Rusted Root and smelling the grass and flowers and freshly-tilled soil of the farm up the street. I love trips to the zoo, Rita’s frozen custard, hikes at McConnell’s Mill, and our annual church festival. I’m looking forward to it all.
But when the spring thaw hits, I can’t help but think of its accompanying workload, and the backaches that come with it. And so, rather than rush to embrace the spring, I plan to curl my hands around another hot cup of coffee, relishing the fact that we still have another good month before the yard work begins in earnest. In the meantime, I plan to tackle at least a couple more crocheting projects, and maybe a novel or two, before my lazy weekends vanish in the sun.

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