It never fails. Each year springtime sneaks into Montana amid the stubborn exit of winter. I see the signs all around . . . trees leafing out . . . bulbs sprouting . . . flowering buds . . . green . . . and the wife making her annual trip to the greenhouse to purchase our annual sacrifice to the gods of nature. In a week that we have seen temperatures ranging from below freezing with snow to the upper 60s . . . spring is exerting itself in the face of the stubborn winter that does not want to leave. As usual, I am not ready . . . I am already losing the battle.
Despite the fact that we have now lived in Montana almost six years, the wife still practices the “annua sacrificium” or “annual sacrifice” of the potted flowers. Every year with the first whiff of warm air, the wife is off to the local greenhouse to purchase flowers to be potted and placed in the yard. It is our annual sacrifice to the gardening gods . . . about fifty bucks worth of flowers every year. Every year the wife runs out, purchases a boat load of flowers to pot, and then places them around the yard. Every year it snows within two days of the flowers being placed in the yard. Every year the flowers take a beating . . . die . . . and we start all over again. The second time is always the charm. But, as I stated, it is usually about fifty dollars worth of flowers that take the hit.
It is blackmail, plain and simple. Whoever these gardening gods are, they have quite a racket going on. I just wish they would set up a Swiss bank account somewhere, send a ransom note stating they will kill our flowers if we do not send a check for fifty dollars to them. Sadly, they won’t do it . . . the wife is left to guess. Since moving to Montana I have come to accept that I will make an annual donation to the gardening gods so that the rest of the Montana warm weather will allow our flowers to grow. Though it pains my wallet I have come to accept the fact that it keeps the wife happy to make this annual sacrifice . . . as we all know, if Mama is happy everyone else is happy. I like a happy home.
At the end of the mowing season last fall, I swore I was going to get the lawn mower ready for the next mowing season . . . tuned up, blades sharpened, the usual manly stuff. Well, the yard has been mowed once . . . with a sputtering mower and a dull blade. How dull is the blade? To be honest it wouldn’t cut butter much less mow over stubborn grass . . . basically it knock it over. With my mower you have to sneak up on the lawn. First you go in one direction, then quickly turn around to catch the grass off guard before doing it a third time. Usually it looks good for a day or two, but then the unevenness of the grass boldly exerts itself.
Now I have been swearing this tuning up of the mower for . . . oh say, almost five years. Every year the yard gets ahead of me . . . I panic . . . gas up the mower—dull blade and all . . . and, I start mowing. The yard is always one up on me. I beat the grass into submission. I have tried cursing the grass, but God is not listening to the prayer . . . no, I think God is having a great chuckle at my expense.
I believe that lawn care . . . especially mowing the lawn . . . is sacrilegious . . . that it goes against what God desires. If God is all powerful . . . all controlling . . . and wants grass to be a nice level two inches tall; well, then, I think God would have made grass stop growing once it reached two inches in height. Grass does not stop growing at two inches . . . that expectation comes from the neighbors and the town. They frown on me letting my lawn grow as God would desire it to grow . . . threaten me with fines if I do not mow my yard. Hell will be filled with these dogmatic lawn worshippers. It would be nice if God would send down some horticulturalist with a stone tablet declaring that grass is free to grow . . . but, I guess God had enough of stone tablets after Moses brought down the first set.
Despite the choppiness of the grass, the neighbors and town has to admit that everything is green . . . well, mostly green. There are those spots in the yard where yellow is making a concerted effort to make it presence known. Yellow . . . always beautiful against a deep green. Yellow . . . always the color of dandelions. It is not even mid-May yet and those little boogers are already making their presence known. How in the world there is even one dandelion in the yard I cannot understand. I dug them up . . . ripped them out . . . sprayed them . . . cursed them . . . flipped them off . . . even begged them all last summer to the point that I thought I had finally gotten rid of them when the first snow came. But . . . NO! No, they just hid under the snow and waited . . . waited until the grass turned green and made their appearance with a vengeance.
If it were not for the neighbors . . . the town . . . or what the horticulturalist gurus espouse, I’d let them go. Take a look at the picture above . . . beautiful isn’t it? But they are dandelions . . . dreaded and cursed dandelions! Dandelions are a pretty flower . . . even when they go to seed. I cannot wait until I have the opportunity to teach the granddaughter how to blow the seeds off of dandelions . . . she will love it. We will rejoice in the joy of the experience . . . especially as I teach her to blow them towards the neighbors’ yards. They should experience the joy we are experiencing.
Dandelions are not the only weeds overtaking the yard. There are other weeds. I always tell folks that I just mow them down because without them . . . well, without them I have no yard.
This evening I sat on the deck, a light mist falling from the sky, watching for birds. I surveyed the yard . . . a bright green . . . spring was definitely springing. The yard was uneven. There were yellow patches here and there. I saw plants where there shouldn’t have been plants. A pang hit my stomach . . . damn, I am already losing . . . the weeds are going to kick my butt. For a moment I cursed the gardening and lawn care gods with their dogmatic expectations of perfection. I cursed my inability to control the acts of nature running rampant across the lawn. I felt like a failure.
At least at first . . . but then I thought, who cares? After the sacrifice, the flowers will grow. After the mower knocks the grass down, it will sprout back up. After the dandelions are picked and blown, they will come back and add color to the deepest green. The weeds will grow back. The yard will begin to look like the scenery I see while driving around in the wilderness of Montana . . . beautiful. God’s handiwork is always beautiful. Let it grow . . . let it thrive . . . if God wanted it any other way, God would have landscaped it for us. I relax and accept the fact that whatever I do is good enough for God . . . the neighbors and town, well I guess I could refer them to God. Let God deal with them.
In the meantime, I am going to relax. The granddaughter and I are going to have a blast this summer. Nothing beats blowing the seeds off of a dandelion . . . especially when sharing with the neighbors. Everyone ought to have a little of God’s handiwork in their yard. After all, weren’t we all taught to share in kindergarten? I think so . . .
As we enter into the period of time known as “annua sacrificium” let us rejoice in the power of our sacrifice . . . let us rejoice in the fact that nature is going to do whatever nature wants to do . . . and, despite our best efforts to ruin it all, it still turns out beautiful. I get over the fifty dollar hit . . . always do. May the gardening god appreciate the sacrifice . . . now bring on the onslaught!