This is quite probably Sam’s and Pippin’s favourite time of year.
Winter isn’t any more fun for a couple of old dogs than it is for a couple of old fogeys who had something better to do last fall when we should have been getting our flu shots.
The past flu season was exactly that: a whole season of flu.
Added to that, the winter past was unusually unaccommodating for those of us who like our outdoor activities in our own backyards.
But winter and the flu season finally relented and gave us a few days suitable for garden preparation before the official start of spring.
Now, I can’t say I’m hoping for the 30-plus-degrees spring we had last year, but a more normal balmy respite from snow and ice would be welcome. There is pruning to complete, and a garden to dig.
And it just so happens that, along with trying to do whatever dad is doing, those are a couple of Sam’s and Pippin’s favourite jobs.
They are specialists.
When I start removing extraneous grape vines or apple whips, Sam begins trimming any twigs and branches he can reach. And as a particularly leggy standard poodle, what he can reach takes in a lot of territory. Spirea, weigela, and even some dead fennel stocks that somehow withstood the winter snows were Sam’s victims last weekend.
Years ago, one of my plant science professors maintained that pruning is as much art as science.
Though dubious of his understanding of science, who am I to question Sam’s art? He’s certainly brought some interesting shapes to the garden.
Pippin, on the other hand, is a digger. A mole hunter.
It’s hard to find fault with his passion. He’s the little guy. It’s easier to measure the distance from his chin to the floor in centimetres than inches.
But he has the digging instincts of a full-grown bulldozer. Turn your back on him for one minute and when you turn back, Pip will be deep in a hole that wasn’t there before, his head down and his floppy ears sort-of-cocked for any underground mole stirrings.
Unfortunately, his instinct for where to dig is about as sensible as Sam’s instinct for what to prune.
Sam and Pip see themselves as willing workers, driven by the enjoyment of their chosen vocations.
And for them, as for us, spring is time to get busy.