If there is one thing that makes me happy it's the arrival of spring. I have lived my whole life in the mid west and you would think that I'd be used to the endless cycle that are our seasons. Cold, desolate winter followed by the hope that a new spring brings. Somehow, with the arrival of greens and yellows in my yard I feel as if this is the first time I am seeing color. Suddenly, everything seems a little brighter, as if things will take a turn for the wonderful because my crocus are blooming. I can't explain why this feeling persists every year. I only know that it does.
I have no green thumb. My style of gardening is this: A catalogue arrives in my mailbox. It advertises beautiful flowers and decorative shrubs. The words "Guaranteed Not To Die" and "Will Grow Anywhere" make confident promises. I order a few and then proceed to prove them wrong. If it were not for my husband our entire yard would be a brown wasteland where flowers go to die.
As it is, the front yard is beautiful. The side hill where our deck rests is a haven. He keeps it this way. The backyard, not so much. We have two large dogs. We have turned the yard over to them.
At first, my husband resisted this. He spent one fall slaving over that mud pit. He tilled the ground. He planted a grass seed that said it could withstand anything. He laid out a blanket of hay and watered it religiously. He kept the dogs chained in a small portion away from his precious crop. He forbid me and our child to walk out the back door. Hours were spent watching the grass grow. Regular reports were called in from his post at the window.
"The patch by the gate is about an inch tall now."
"Over in the back corner isn't doing as well. I should reconfigure the sprinkling system."
"The wind keeps blowing my hay."
Always, I would pretend to listen. That was the year I was glad when winter came and he abandoned his watch.
Warm weather hearkened in spring and fresh green grass. It was beautiful for about a day. The rains came and turned the ground soggy. The grass people were only joking when they said it could withstand anything. Before we knew it, the backyard was a swamp. Call me crazy, but I like to play fetch with my dogs in this environment. I love the first day that is warm enough I can get out there with them. I love to tromp around in the mud. I love when they run through it and the mud splashes all over their bellies and my ankles. I love the sunshine and a slobbery tennis ball and the look on their faces right before I send it airborne. I love that my husband loves us all enough to throw in the towel when it comes to the backyard.
Someday, the dogs will be playing ball in the big yard in the sky, our son will no longer have the neighborhood over to play tag and my husband will have the backyard of his dreams. I have promised him this. In the meantime, I'll keep to the back. I love to stand by the fence and reach over to touch the forsythia bush he planted several years ago. One of the first things to bloom, it's bright yellow buds are the signs of Spring I wait so long to see. Yellow goes really well with mud.