Hal Borland muses on March

“March is a tomboy with tousled hair, a mischievious smile, mud on her shoes and a laugh in her voice. She knows when the first shadbush will blow, where the first violet will bloom, and she isn’t afraid of a salamander. She has whims and winning ways. She’s exasperating, lovable, a terror-on-wheels, too young to be reasoned with, too old to be spanked.

March is rain drenching as June and cold as January. It is mud and slush and the first green grass down along the brook. March gave its name, and not without reason, to the mad hare. March is the vernal equinox when, by the calculations of the stargazers, Spring arrives. Sometimes the equinox is cold and impersonal as a mathematical table, and sometimes it is warm and lively and spangled with crocuses. The equinox is fixed and immutable, but Spring is a movable feast that is spread only when sun and wind and all the elements of weather contrive to smile at the same time.

March is pussy willows. March is hepatica in bloom, and often it is arbutus. Sometimes it is anemones and bloodroot blossoms and even brave daffodils. March is a sleet storm pelting out of the north the day after you find the first violet bud. March is boys playing marbles and girls playing jacks and hopscotch. March once was sulphur and molasses; it still is dandelion greens and rock cress.

March is the gardener impatient to garden; it is the winter-weary sun seeker impatient for a case of Spring fever. March is February with a smile and April with a sniffle. March is a problem child with a twinkle in its eye.”

Hal Borland: Sundial of the Seasons, 1964

Scorched earth – our first attempt at a vegetable garden

We’re not always successful and the photos aren’t always pretty. Oftentimes, we do really stupid things.

The photo at left is proof positive that my DH and I are dangerous idiots. A few years ago, yours truly, the newly-minted master gardener, got the bright idea to use newspapers and straw to cover her just planted vegetable seedlings. This (potentially combustible) mulch would hold in moisture and keep out weeds. Great idea, right?

Enter my DH, the easily distractable and absent-minded volunteer fireman. Being the tool-loving crafty man that he is, he built trellises for the beans and cucumbers and a nice little lattice fence to keep out the critters.

Late on a Sunday afternoon he’s out putting the finishing touches on his handiwork and decides to fire-up the tikki torches to keep the notorious jersey mosquitos at bay. After a while he wanders inside.

Next came a neighbor on a bicycle drawn to our yard by the smoke and flames. Then came the firetrucks. Can you imagine our embarrassment? We’re inside oblivious while our backyard is in flames!

My dear brother, who has a sick sense of humor and skills with photoshop, sent us this a few days later. That’s my other brother standing with the shovel and great physique in the center of the photo.

So, we learned a few lessons with that experience and our friends and family (and the neighbors!) had a good laugh at our expense.

Note: For some odd reason I can’t make the above photo *clickable* for enlargement to read the captions. The caption by my brother with the shovel says “Our compost expert gives advice on composting with ash: it’s simple – all you need is a match!”. The Iraqi press officer says, “I don’t know what you are talking about. There were no fires here!.” In this issue: *Terroristic Gardening – tips from comical Ali *How to roast your peppers while still on the vine *Don’t get MAD at weeds, get EVEN *How your garden can earn you big money in insurance claims Next issue: *The experts will give their tips on garden tool fire sales *Save time – combine your gardening with your grilling! And the woodchuck flipping us off says: Tips on getting those pesky varmits! Smoke ’em out!

Did I mention my brother was sick?!?