Monday, April 02, 2007

Spring in the Backyard

This is the first year I've felt we truly had a back yard. In our old neighborhood, one road swooped so close to the other that our house had two front yards. A front yard is a tolerable place to grow tulips and watch the world go by, but it lacks the cozy homishness of a back yard, as if you were still in the house. Not that our back yard is private by any means, but still we are freer to be our composting, mud-slinging, diaper-drying selves than out front. Out front the messiest thing I feel comfortable with is popsicles. (And even so, I'm never doing grape juice popsicles again.)

I hope the mosquito-larvae eating bacteria will continue to hold the bugs at bay so that we can continue to enjoy it, since last year, even after we moved in, I couldn't stay out back longer than two minutes. That's how long it took me to get two mosquito bites, and I refuse to voluntarily subject myself to more than two mosquito bites a day.

The ducklings have discovered mud. That icky, cold, scary stuff of a few weeks ago has turned out to be a lifetime supply of playdough, free for the taking. D1 will spend hours baking with it--not mud pies, generally, as pie is a dish I seldom make, but mud pizzas and bread. The dirt around here, despicable for growing things, is wonderful mud, firm and smooth and holding its shape when it dries. I foresee entire cities of mud bricks growing out of it in years to come.

As for me, I am hanging out diapers again--and after a long winter they desparately need some time in the sun. This morning D1 was so insistent that they could finish up the job of hanging out the cloths by themselves that she sent me back inside. I worked on the dishes for a few minutes and came back out to check on them, only to discover that they had decided to use the cloths to wipe down their picnic table with water from the iced tea pitcher I had just started.

The patio is a dangerous place. The whole big backyard, with its lack of a fence and presence of a pond, is too much for me to let them play in unsupervised just yet. But surely the patio, right outside the kitchen, is safe enough while I dash in and work on supper. Well, it is perfectly safe for ducklings. It is considerably less safe for my projects. The sheets out drying weren't meant to be used as a tablecloth for a mud feast, and mud in general is not to be confused with the potting soil in which I am starting seedlings.

Spring is here and dazzling me again. Long ago, when I lived in Olympia between the mountains and the sea, my boss learned of my interest in DOB and commented, "He lives in Ohio? It must be love." But when I first visited Ohio, it was in April and the redbud trees were blooming and the green, green grass was full of flowers. There are real, live violets in our lawn (and I never saw a violet before) and I just learned the black birds with the shimmering blue heads that love to bathe in our little puddle go by the mundane name of the Common Grackle.

Never mind about heaven. I have not been good enough to deserve one spring morning of tugging dandelions out of the flowerbeds. I'll enjoy it thoroughly all the same.

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