By LYNNE IRONS
One of my favorite things about Vineyard winter living is the heartfelt appreciation for a sunny warm day. Last Saturday was one of those days. Perfect strangers were smiling and commenting on the beauty of it all. It’s one reason I could never live in Florida or California. I love the unpredictability of it all. My great-aunt Margaret Mitchell sold her home in the hills of Pennsylvania and headed for the sunshine state in her late eighties. She lived long enough to regret it. The weather was too nice and therefore, boring, she said.
At any rate, last weekend I turned into a maniac and tried to do everything. I put together some row covers. Hopefully, under the plastic, the soil will warm considerably and I will get some seeds directly into the ground. I’m thinking spinach, lettuce and radishes. My crops in the unheated greenhouse are coming along nicely and I am able to pick the tweensiest of salads. My granddaughter, Violet, and I were thinking of using the dollhouse china for them.
I stopped at the Co-op Bank last Saturday. I know it changed its name but I am resistant to change. I still say Gay Head. I don’t seem to even try. Oh, well! Anyway, under the still-dormant crabapple tree there were several early crocuses simply abuzz with honeybees. I checked my own hive at home and sure enough, they were out in force. I was so happy, since I planted quite a few crocuses last fall for them. Mine have emerged but are as yet to bloom.
I attempted to make some sense of my raspberry patch. What a train wreck! Last year I gave up. It was loaded with wild morning glories and mugwort. I put on my Thorn-masters elbow-length gloves and went after the blackberry vines that had invaded as well. For all their care, they simply do not put out fruit. We had terrific blackberries growing up the mountain from my grandparents’ farm in Duke Center, Pa. They must have been a different variety.
Lucky for me, I had several intact bales of hay left from last year. It has begun to spoil nicely. I covered my asparagus bed with it. I know it may make the spears emerge a bit later but I enjoy them when they come and perhaps I’ll get a head start on the weeds. As if! I also tossed some flakes around (in true Ruth Stoutian fashion) on areas still covered with last season’s neglected weeds and debris. I haven’t the time, energy or inclination to till this year. The soil is so good in those areas, I see no point in disturbing it. I may poke a broadfork into a few planting areas for the heck of it!
I have a bone to pick with television and radio journalists. First of all, why do they persist in using the word absolutely at the beginning of every answer? Secondly, they did not pay attention in middle school English class so they repeatedly end sentences in prepositions. Finally, in keeping with the gardening theme, they use the expression “tough road to hoe.” What is that? I’ve hoed many a hard row in my career, but thankfully none have been roads!
I heard on NPR that the postmaster general is thinking about closing many rural post offices to save money. I was so sad thinking about my parents in Rew. Since Wal-Mart killed the town, the only thing left is the tiny post office. That’s progress for you!
Shortly after writing the first several paragraphs I took a trip around my garden and was delighted to find my crocuses blooming. Talk about a few hours of sunshine doing wonders — including the lifting of my own spirits.
My fall-purchased witch hazel also is blooming. What a good decision on my part. I’ve coveted the one at Middletown nursery for years. Brookside Farm has an impressive one in full bloom now. Hard to believe Easter is a mere three weeks away!