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And I thought it was spring fever



Pale greenhouse basil bought from Trader Joe’s gets a boost from some rays before it goes into pesto.

Where did all this energy come from? Why am I spending more time outdoors instead of in front of the computer doom-scrolling? At first I thought it was an ordinary case of spring fever, because January has been mild. But then I realized that it’s relief, and that I feel safe again now that the country has clawed its way back from the brink of fascism.

The news is three parts boring, three parts worrisome, and four parts encouraging — a welcome change from ten parts terrifying.

This time a year ago, the abbey grounds were a mess, with locust, copel, and briar creeping in from the woods and springing up everywhere the mower couldn’t reach. Ken did a lot of clearing last March, so it was only a day’s work for me to whip the yard back into shape with a bow saw and a pair of loppers. The daffodil shoots are two inches high. The garlic is up about three inches. The birds seem very happy, because it has been an easy winter for them so far. Mrs. Squirrel has been climbing on the house, trying to get back into the attic, no doubt because she’s ready to build a nest for her spring babies. I talk her back into the woods with a slingshot (no squirrels are harmed). I saw Mrs. Possum on a recent evening, and she was plump — probably pregnant. Out in the front ditch by the road, I pulled a blackberry stalk out by its roots, and a well-nourished earthworm came up with it. I still have some pruning to do — apples and grapes. The countdown to daffodils is about thirty days.

I can’t wait to start scratching in the dirt. The garden had a good clearing and tilling back in the fall, so it’s looking good for spring — dark, friable, and winter-fallow. I’ve bought all the seeds I need. To get an earlier start, I’m going to experiment with a kind of cold frame bought from Amazon. It’s just metal hoops with a clear cover, enough for one short row of early greens and lettuce.

For the first few years here, the challenge was building up the soil and establishing a landscape. Now the problem is managing the fertility and fecundity — holding back the woods and managing the overgrowth. In one wet summer, the place could turn into a jungle.

Keeping up the yard, garden, and orchard would be impossible without machines. The tiller, which had not worked quite right for two or three years, runs as good as new now that it has a new carburetor, which a neighbor helped me install (or, more accurately, I handed him tools and he installed it). The Snapper mower is now eleven years old and breaks down too often. It will now become a backup mower, replaced by a new zero-turn Ariens mower that I had to order from the factory and that arrived in December. Zero-turn mowers are the new must-have item for homeowners. I’m hoping that a zero-turn mower will save me some mowing time and give me much better options for mowing around trees and obstacles. The chain saw normally gets some exercise only when Ken is here. But I lent it to a neighbor to cut up the beech tree down by the bridge that fell during a storm last March, knowing that the neighbor would return it all shiny and sharpened and with stabilized fuel. (I learned the hard way that one winter is all it takes for gasoline to go bad and gum up carburetors in small engines.) I helped split and load the firewood for the neighbor. These days, though, splitting wood means operating a hydraulic splitting machine.

But we can’t yet totally avert our eyes from the pig circus that was Trump. Over at Lawfare, my old friend Jonathan Rauch, a recidivist centrist if there ever was one, argues that President Biden should pardon Trump. Jonathan’s arguments are reasonable, as long as you can stomach the idea of overlooking a minor matter like an attempt at a fascist coup and treason that served the interests of Putin’s Russia, treason the details of which we still don’t know. I cannot stomach those things. Trump must be neutralized by vigorous application of law and justice. All his crimes must be exposed, as well as whatever it was that Putin was holding over his head. Trump’s children — baby sociopaths, as the New Republic called them — must also be neutralized. They’re a crime family, after all. It was inevitable that, once we wrestled the reins out of the hands of right-wingers and fascists, that radical centrists would want to steer the ship of state again, as they did during the Clinton and Obama administrations. That’s the challenge for progressives now — not letting anyone forget that we progressives earned this, that even Georgia has turned a corner, and that our time has come. For Republicans, “unity” means acting as though they didn’t lose, and continuing to make the rich richer while fattening the livers of authoritarian white people by force-feeding them with propaganda. We have been waiting a long, long time for progress. Centrists and right-wingers have had their way for more than 50 years. This is our last chance to do something about inequality and environmental catastrophe.

I’m ready for some progress. And I’m ready for spring.

Meanwhile, to better prepare you for spring fever, here’s a beautifully produced video on Swedish winters.





One Comment

  1. Henry Sandigo wrote:

    Thanks David
    Enjoyed this write up

    Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

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