it’s like that in spring. one day you wake up with an itch under your skin. you walk outside. you take a deep breath. next thing you know visions of leaf mulch swirl in your head.
you think back to that nice lady you met, back in the summer. the one who told you the one trick up her gardening sleeve was the dumptruck load of leaf mulch she had poured onto her driveway each spring. how she hauled it by wheelbarrow loads onto her beds, hauled it till her back screamed out in pain.
you start to imagine three inches of loam, the earth’s meringue if ever there was one. you imagine your little baby bulbs–the ones with knots of cobalt blue, drifts of white or buttery yellows–pushing up through the crust of the earth. you imagine their soft green skins meeting up with the blanket of loam. you imagine the tips of the leaves, the heads of the stems, all letting out a deep sigh, as they come through from under the earth, and realize the someone who tends this particular garden is a someone who’s looking out for each and every one of the babies.
so you start to measure off your gardens, one foot in front of the other, you step and you count. you multiply length times width, come up with square footage.
you call the nice lady at the leaf mulch factory. you ask a few questions. you put in your order. you check with your mate who keeps watch on the checkbook. make sure there’s room in the till for this springtime expense. he gives it a nod, bless his non-gardening heart.
and so you call back, tell the nice lady to bring on the dump truck.
on a morning filled with mist, and promising a whole day of rain, you steer the truck to the parking pad where your earth load will wait for you and the wheelbarrows.
just like the days long ago when your brothers chased after dump trucks and earth movers, any sort of construction equipment, you find yourself with a heart that’s pumping in doubletime. because all this dumping and steering is truly exciting. it’s not everyday that your garden chores involve big noisy trucks, with squeaky gears, and moving parts that could crush you.
with a nod from you, and an OK sign from the driver, up goes the dumper, and down slides the leaf mulch, all five cubic yards, or the equivalent of 45 bags from the garden store. a cumulus cloud of organic mist rose up from the billowing mulch, the clear and indisputable sign that this mulch was alive, was teeming with all that a garden needs for the whole long season ahead.
i couldn’t get to my shovel fast enough. paid no heed to the rain clouds not far in the offing. i heaved and i wheeled. covered a good third of the gardens.
then the rains came hard and certain.
i shoveled anyway, my whole self covered in mud.
i couldn’t have hummed a merrier tune deep inside.
it’s what happens to those of us who live to give back to the earth. who find enchantment in the up-close and personal that comes when you’re down on your knees, brushing back clots of whole earth, making room for the hopes and promises, the full-on faith of those green sprouts that refuse to give up over the winter.
it’s what happens when the earth begins to stir again. when we begin to stir deep down inside. our heartbeats in sync with the pulse of mama earth who does not surrender, does not give in to the ice and the dark bitter cold. who hunkers down, who holds onto all that matters, who births year after year. who fills us with bouquets, and swirls of springtime perfume.
who paints the earth in the ripest of green.
who rewards us for our wheelbarrows of hard labor, of unflagging love. who settles deep and keeps us going forward…..
the rains have stopped now, and a good four cubic yards still wait for me and my wheelbarrow. i’ve babies to blanket before i sleep, babies to blanket, in hopes that they’ll rise from the earth, and wail hallelujah in that song that only the earth knows.
it’s spring break here and it’s been heavenly. delicious cupcake was more than delicious, and so were her mama and papa. i got to fly away for four nights and days with my firstborn, a gift if ever there was one. and now it’s home and tending to hearth and garden. i am humming indeed, and headed back out to the mud…..
happy merry april fool’s day.