Ahhh, springtime. Finally. What could be more magical than springtime in the country? Violets and crocus peek their purple faces up to make sure the snow is all gone before relaxing into bloom. Forsythia and magnolia burst into yellow and pink magnificence to celebrate days that have grown longer and warmer. The finches have returned, and I can finally take the suet down before it starts to melt. Wrinkly green and ruby nubs coming up by the garage remind me that rhubarb cake-making time is just around the corner, much to D's excitement. Springtime is a luscious reminder of how good it is to be alive.
And nothing quite reminds you of how alive you are like robins chortling and bluejays arguing outside the bedroom window at 4:30am, or the return of marauding raccoons staking out the compost pile. Not to mention the fragrance of freshly spread manure wafting in through all the windows you left open before you went to town. Mmmm, country living in springtime: it's a whole new experience in aromas, and definitely not for the faint of nose.
Today, for example, I hauled Jade's exersaucer outside so she could soak up some April sunshine while I planted my frost-resistant pansies. I dressed her in a warm sweater, wrestled her hat on and sprinkled some cheerios on the saucer. Then I hunted up my gardening gloves and new trowel and hunkered down to do my first planting of the season. We were happy as two little clams, Jade and I.
And then we heard the rumbling.
We turned to see my brother-in-law tearing across the south field in the big tractor, hauling my father-in-law's newly acquired manure spreader behind him. The poop was still steaming.
Jade was delighted. She adores anything that makes a lot of noise and began waving enthusiastically at my brother-in-law. I just sighed. I calculated that I had approximately ten or fifteen minutes to get planting before the smell hit us and absorbed into our hair and clothes.
It's not that I'm averse to poop; I understand the necessity of well-rotted manure when growing crops and gardens. After two years of living here, my nose is finally growing accustomed to the sour, familiar fragrance that floats through the Bruce at this time of year. No, I'm not a wimpy city girl who can't handle a little doodie. It's just that I had a bad experience with it last year and haven't quite forgiven my brother-in-law yet.
"D'you want some sh*t for your garden, Kimmy?" C asked me last fall. He'd just climbed down from his tractor and ambled across the lawn to where I was pulling out the last vestiges of my tomato plants from the garden. I eyed him - and the giant load of crap he was hauling behind the tractor.
"Is it well-rotted?" I asked. "I don't want anything that's going to attract bugs or be too smelly."
"Oh, it's good sh*t," he assured me, knowing full well that I couldn't possibly tell the difference.
"Wellll....okay. But not too much!"
"Don't worry, I'll dump off enough for your garden. It'll be fine.."
I took my best school-marmish pose and shook a warning finger at him. "C, however much you think you should drop off, give me a quarter of that."
He shrugged and went back to his tractor. I went back to my garden, then went inside to make supper and forgot all about my scheduled poop delivery. Until I went outside the next morning and saw the GIANT PILE of crap C'd dumped on the edge - not even the middle - of my garden!!! What part of "not too much" did that boy not understand? ARGH!!!
It took my husband and I over two sweaty, back-breaking hours to dig the stuff into the garden, and even then it barely got mixed in. "Don't worry," C assured me, "it'll break down over the winter. It's good sh*t, I told you."
Yeah, right. This spring, my garden is still covered in a thick, un-broken-down layer of manure that is going to take an industrial sized rototiller to plough through. Conveniently, my brother-in-law is "too damned busy" to help. So I'll have to resort to cajoling my husband, or enlisting one of his cousins to somehow get the poopy garden under control with some serious machinery. But at least we'll be able to enjoy the birdies chirping, the apple trees blooming and that faint, beguiling scent of spring manure while we do it.