Spring has come to our yard. Our yard is not a well-manicured lawn like the ones you'll see in "Better Homes and Gardens". It is a family yard: well-trampled and full of toys and children. But once a year, spring arrives and transforms our yard into a showplace of color and beauty.
We are fortunate to have a large yard of about an acre. Our lawn, made up of several varieties of both grass and weed, has proven highly resistant to John's beautification efforts and has clung to its old ways with tenacity. Consequently, each spring I can depend on receiving giant handfuls of golden Dandelion and pearl-tipped clover, offered with love by grinning, grimy boys.
Our yard also has an incline, perfect for gaining momentum on a Big Wheel, a Slip n' Slide, or a snow saucer, depending on the season. One wouldn't imagine that an acre is large enough to have rolling hills, but thanks to our resident moles, we have hills which really do roll. The moles are sneaky critters who tunnel mayhem across our turf. They have evaded John's best mole-catching schemes, and he has even posted a bounty of $10 per mole. So far, no luck, but the hunt will soon begin again. My money is on the moles.
A number of large old Maple trees provide shade and strong branches for climbing children and their various swinging contraptions. Two backyard Maples suspend our hammock, a gift brought back from Honduras by John's brother and sister-in-law. The hammock is the perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon, especially if there's a nice breeze, and it's also a magnet for thrill-seeking children looking for entertainment to pass the time. Our Maples also provide a source of delight which comes just once a year: the annual Shedding of the Seeds. It is a thrill to be outside on a windy day, when showers of arboreal helicopters spiral by the hundreds across the yard. (Unfortunately, they also spiral into the landscaping, creating a gardening challenge for weeks to come.)
We have several evergreen Pines which stand guard along the edge of our back property. They drop pinecones- always useful for a game of Army- and pine needles, which provide beds for Barbie dolls or captured insects. Three Mulberry trees reside in the ditch which runs along the opposite property line. These are good climbing trees; I've witnessed my children clinging to the branches clear at the tops. For about three weeks each summer, my children run around with purple-stained hands, feet and mouths because it's Berry Season. Occasionally, they are disciplined enough to collect a whole quart of berries and we savor the taste of fresh mulberry pie. We enjoy watching the multitude of birds and the occasional transient squirrel which make their homes in the branches of our trees. Although our trees are definitely not the prettiest in the neighborhood, the kids and creatures that inhabit our yard would argue that they are surely the most loved.
One of the nicest surprises about spring is that it brings a bit of beauty to our otherwise common-looking yard. The Hyacinths stand in brilliant bloom around my garden flag; the Dogwood and Forsythia blossom; the Iris emerge in purple splendor; a few renegade Crocuses poke through the grass around the front Maple; even Ugly Bush out by the driveway makes its best show with hundreds of tiny white flowers. The front garden awakens from its winter respite: multi-hued bushes; a Japanese Maple; golden Day Lillies; a miniature rose bush; glossy green Hostas; and a few large prickly bushes which both children and adults have learned to treat with great respect.
I planted a bush the first spring we lived here, and hadn't a clue what it would look like when it bloomed. In fact, I forgot all about it; it was just a stick with some leaves. After the following winter, it looked so pitiful that I assumed that whatever it was had died. I was thinking of pulling it up and starting over when it began making a green, bulbous, weedy stalk. I told John, "This is a giant weed!" He insisted that it was a flower, so doubtfully, I left it alone. He was right. One morning we were surprised by a huge white wedding-cake type of flower that seemed way too showy for the modest bush it inhabited. It was a Peony. It was soon followed by a half-dozen other giant blooms which amazed us with their beauty until the rain from a spring storm weighed them down and they all fell into the mud. Spring is full of all kinds of surprises.
I never considered spring to be one of my favorite seasons, but I've had to reconsider. The transformation of dreary and brown into fresh, glorious color is a delight to witness. For just a few weeks, our ordinary yard becomes an oasis of beauty. Spring has returned, and I'm enjoying the show.