Go outside – you will like Winter better if you get to know her

A break in the weather provides time to get the yard picked up. Every time I look out the window I see another old branch has fallen from one or another tree. Raking leaves the other day I notice they’re already composting pretty well, they smell like pond scum. Good  stuff! I spread them in weed patches – good bye weed patches.

I’m so happy we got those rain barrels – in past years a storm like this has brought water right up to our patio, flooding the little gravel pathway around our apartment. Now the water runs happily over to the honeysuckle hedge along the driveway, or over to the young trees we planted behind the house.

The spout off our tenants’ house has begun to flood our driveway, so we’ll have to look for another barrel or some way to shunt  that water over to the lawn. Right now, I’m not worried about saving water, I’m more worried about keeping the rain from ruining my house.

Although, it’s great to have a 5 gallon bucket under a slow spout, so we have water to wash the patio and our boots when we get a chance to go outside.

Of course it is bad to stay inside, especially sleep too much, during weather like this. There is plenty to do outside – for one thing, you can walk around your house with a stick or a broom handle and check your gutters. We try to use the dogs as an excuse to get out. Everybody gets very wet, it’s very refreshing. We keep old towels for the dogs, hung in the garage. They love getting a rub down when we come in from chores or a walk. We hang our outside clothes on a hook inside the door. The entryway smells wet all the time, but upstairs the apartment is warm and smells like food.

It’s good to go outside, even  if just to appreciate being back inside.  All around my yard, things are starting to happen. Daffodils and hyacinths are pushing their way through the gravel along my driveway. I dug some up last Fall and spread them down the driveway toward my tenants’ house, I am thrilled to see those pushing their way up too.

I didn’t get many narcissus  last year – those are the flamingo-like pink flowers that rise up on a long stem out of the dead ground in August, when everything else has withered away. The pale pink color is very distinct, and they look so elegant, clustered like pink trumpets on the end of that stem. The boring green leaves are coming up in luxurious bunches – I think we will have a big pay-off this year.

The irises are standing bright and at alert, new spears poking out every day. We may have “Purple-looza” this year, there are so many filling in the border along the driveway, another bunch that has grown out of control in the front flower bed, and more I dropped in a trench along the street and forgot about.  Whenever I had a few minutes last Fall I’d pull a big section of roots out and separate them with my shovel, then go around digging little trenches in out-of-the-way spots, laying the roots in as best I could, then covering and tamping down with the shovel.  I tried to put out so many I would have a hard time remembering where – then I get a surprise!  They grow from the winter rains, they are spent by Summer, very seldom need any attention, until they get so overgrown the roots are running on top of the ground. Then I thin them out and spread them around the yard.

One of my favorite bunches is one I laid on the ground next to a spigot, intending to plant them another time. I never got around to it, they just set themselves in. Now they are so overgrown I will have to dig them off that spigot. But not til I get another round of blossoms out of them.

I planted some California poppies last Fall too, I wish I had been more aggressive with that project. They are all coming up, it was worth the 20 or so minutes I spent scraping aside weeds from a few patches. But I wish I’d planted more, they are a real pick-me-up later in Summer.

Today I have a big work day, lots of mess to clean up, but it’s the kind of work I enjoy, being outside in the crisp rain-fresh air. I hope you all will get a chance to get outside. You will like Winter better when you get to know her.






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