Opinion

COLUMN: Now is when the year really begins

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It began with the clocks moving ahead, and the chorus of pond frogs breaking the night silence.

Spring, finally, seems to have sprung although its official start is about 10 days away.

Even with the snow of a week ago, the couple of remnant crocus that burst through the lawn briefly are struggling to life. How they have survived over more than a quarter century of lawn mowings and dog tramplings is as incredible as their determined desire to reproduce.

The blooms are now gone, their stalks soon to be eliminated by the inevitable need to keep lawn from turning to pasture.

What appears on that grass with considerable more frequency than the crocus blooms are the myriad dog droppings that, discouraged by winter snow and incessant downpours, have lay dormant until now like bulbs in the ground.

Spring cleanup is not always pretty, particularly when some of it is later discovered transferred from gumboot to gas pedal, the ‘earthy’ aroma exacerbated by the truck’s heater. A bristle brush rather than a scoop shovel then becomes the preferred, though unpleasant, tool of choice.

Other calamities surface when the demand to tidy the yard is of the essence.

The lawn tractor battery requiring a jump, its terminals from months of repose so corroded they must be scraped and polished, the bolts holding the connections rusted solid.

I now have an ugly cavern in my thumb thanks to something sharp under the engine hood.

But swearing aside, these warm and late afternoons have been long awaited and even the task of constant lawn mowing is looked forward to, as is the need to put only one last load of hay in the barn before the pasture grass provides relief from feeding effort.

The pumphouse heater no longer contributes to the hydro bill and the outdoor taps, no longer (I’ve got my fingers crossed) at risk of freezing, are all turned on. Pruning of vines and shrubs, neglected due to inclement weather (easier to blame than simple procrastination) is underway and soon the yard will take on a park-like appearance.

And fortunately, with completion of tidying, there is the anticipation of Interior lakes shedding their ice for a fishing trip or two.

Much as I look forward to spring, and the beauty it brings, it is saddening that so many have not lived to enjoy it at least one more time. I have been to far too many ‘celebrations of life’ this year. Granted, many of my friends and acquaintances are of the age when the sand is mostly in the bottom of the hourglass.

Yet in a few days I will be attending the acknowledgement of the tragic passage of a man not quite 40, knowing that cancer deprived his child of the love and participation of an integral part of her life.

Cancer is a vicious and determined plague, recurring without warning in its unrelenting attack on a body, no matter how young or old, fit or infirm.

Like the crocus bulbs on my front lawn, cancer lies in wait until its ‘spring’ causes it to burst forth, its blooms foretelling potential doom rather than the delight of rebirth.

So it is with each spring we must appreciate what we have, what we have been, and to where, hopefully, we will still go.

markrushton@abbynews.com

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