The Spring Thaw

June 15, 2013

Dudley Wooten

Outdoors Columnist

I’ve said many times how I believe that our 4 seasons in Southern Ohio are a great reason to live here. I truly love all the seasons, but each year, more and more I hate to think they’re over. I know that as each one arrives one has to leave, but I find that each year I have so many things I planned for the season and the season just doesn’t last long enough.

As the days get longer, and the nights shorter, each day is filled with change. This may be great temperature variation, winds, sunshine, rain, sleet, and/or snow. We may have a spring day, and then 3-4 more winter days. Those of us who live outside tend to always be in tune with the weather, because we know the only way we get anything done, is to plan around the weather.

As January and February loosen their grip, March becomes such an unpredictable time of influx. The sap is up, but the leaves aren’t out. The robins and bluebirds reappear, but so does snow. The cattle can’t decide whether to eat hay or wait for grass to grow. The flocks are migrating back, blackbirds are among them.

Landscaping calls are coming in and the ground freezes and thaws with great regularity. This is our window of opportunity to dig trees – before they break bud and leaf out, and at least, the ground is not frozen, and a tree spade enters it well. This is hardly “the doldrums of winter,” that we read about. Anyone who is bored this time of year just doesn’t have enough to do. This transition time in March truly makes me very busy with nursery, farm, landscape bids, and family. I think my problem is going from winter’s laxed first gear to spring’s high gear so abruptly. Maybe I need more time to shift gears or be shiftless.

I’d rather not think that hunting season, snow, hiking, and birding are over, but it is nice to make bids and money again. This March madness goes way beyond basketball for me. I feel that when I do my annual metamorphose from hunter/farmer and arborist back to designer/landscaper and nurseryman I need a phone booth for my quick change of uniform. It sneaks up on me a little more each year. It reminds me of the old Indian in THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES, when he says, “As a young hunter I could slip up on anything and now everything is slipping up on me.”

It’s a slow process, but the dread of letting go of the previous season slowly gives way to the anticipation of the excitement and challenge of the upcoming season. The only reason we let go of something good is to reach for something better, isn’t it?

Yes, I know that you have to take your foot off first to reach second, but at my age, you also have other thoughts. Why be in a big hurry to round third and steal home, and then the game is over? I’m just sayin’.