Other than shoveling snow and walking to and from my car, I hardly moved. I love to walk, but our streets and sidewalks were impassable for months. Covered with layers of snow, ice, then snow and ice again, they were slippery minefields, impregnable and treacherous. Many people fell and broke limbs. So I didn’t go for walks.
I hate gyms. I hate the smells and the manic activity and the idea of going to a place with no other intention that working out in a frenzy. I don’t mind gyms for other people, but I don’t like them for myself. And even though I love to swim, I don’t like indoor pools. I like to swim outdoors, just like I like to walk outdoors. I am old-fashioned that way. And stubborn. I drive my family crazy.
So, last week when temperatures rose and the sun squinted from behind clouds in Southeastern Michigan, I was not in any great shape to take on major garden cleanup. But I am nothing if not tenacious.
On a mild Sunday morning I could not be restrained indoors one second longer. I put on my tall rubber boots, dug out a rake and a broom from the depths of garage debris, and set to work. I swept the front porch, and put away the snow shovel. I raked the front lawn and made tall piles of dead leaves, broken branches and windswept trash that winter storms had hauled in on those bitter nights when I lay in bed listening to the tempest outside. I picked up the piles and dumped everything into my compost bins. I swept the driveway.
I took out clay flowerpots and placed them on the front porch. It is too early to start planting but there they are, harbingers of things to come.
By lunchtime I felt tired and dizzy with hunger, and my muscles were sore. Also, huge blisters had started forming on each hand. But I couldn’t stop myself. Honestly I wanted to, but spring pulled me along like an automaton.
So, I moved to the backyard. I raked the leaves and the debris there. I pulled out wilted plants from the flower garden. I cleaned the picnic table. I cleaned the bird feeder. I cleaned the debris piles so the back-lawn looked cleaner than my living room carpet. I swept the screened-in porch. I dusted and washed the furniture there.
On a day like this I knew that we had to have a barbecue. So, I asked Sam to go grocery shopping and Jeff to barbecue. They said yes.
At the end of that day, as delicious aroma of grilled meat filled the air, I walked around my garden – tired, hungry and so sore that I could hardly stand straight. As I admired my work with silent satisfaction I spotted in the yellow grass the tiniest, sorriest-looking crocus I had ever seen. Miniscule and anemic it offered its misshapen petals to the sun.
And I felt what I feel every spring. There is hope in this world.