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Today is an overcast, drizzly day here on Beaver Island.

This is exactly what I need!

I’ve been putting  many hours into getting my garden ready for Spring. My hands are dry and wrinkled from spending so much time in the soil. My joints are achy and my back is complaining, too, from shoveling dirt, forking compost and moving rocks.

There is progress. I have given away raspberry plants and strawberry plants that were taking over pathways. I thinned poppy beds and iris beds, and sent the extras home with happy visitors. Day-lilies left with everyone who would take them.

I have staked out my central flower bed, and am working my way down the row.

I first dig out the soil, to a depth of about twelve inches. I sift the weeds out as I’m digging, and have a bucket standing by for them. The next step is to rake the surface smooth, then roll out the weed shield and cover that with a thin layer of soil mixed with compost. Now I’m ready to move some plants. I dig up a clump of day-lilies, pull all grasses and weeds away, separate the plants, then settle arrange them randomly in the new bed. I want them to have distance between them so that they have room to grow, and enough nourishment to make the move without trauma. I do not want them to look  like I’ve placed them in regular rows. I want the tallest specimens mainly down the center of the bed, and the shorter  varieties nearer the stone border. I  cover them over with the rest of the dirt that I dug out, and border that section with rocks.Image

It’s coming along, but is still  only about one-third of the way done. This new bed runs right through space that last year had a 4’x5′ strawberry bed and – at the very front – a peony bed. Before I called it a day yesterday, I finished digging up the rest of the strawberry plants that were in my way. They seem fine, this morning, in their temporary home: a tub lined with soil and stored under the picnic table, out of the sun.Image

Today! Today, with the dampness outside, I will concentrate inside.

There is the usual, of course: rugs to vacuum, floors to sweep and sinks to clean. Every single horizontal surface in the house needs to be cleared of what doesn’t belong on it. Laundry to be done, houseplants to water.

In my studio, should I find time to spend there, I have twenty metal frames to assemble and fill with twenty sheets of plexiglass and twenty finished collages. I have four small paintings to frame and three others to order frames for. I have two large paintings underway and a dozen collages in various stages of completion. The studio could use a good cleaning, too!

I have committed to teaching an after-school art class to high-school students through five weeks in May. Today I need to complete that class plan to turn in to the program director here, and a materials list to send  to the Arts Council for dispensation.

Tomorrow I’ll be back at my regular job, so today I want to make a pot of soup so that I’ll have it to pack for my lunches, or to warm up for dinner if I don’t feel like cooking. As long as it’s drizzly, as long as I’m going to have soup bubbling on the stove, I’d might as well make bread, too! That sounds like it will warm the house up,  doesn’t it?

14 responses »

  1. Soup and fresh bread? Again, you draw me into these brief glimpses inside your mind. I can see the clutter in your studio and smell the bread. Game of cribbage?

    • Expanding a garden is a big job. I’m so sorry about your azaleas, though. It’s always a push-pull here, too, about what to make space for, and what has to go. I’m fortunate to have a pretty large garden area to start with. Still, there are always hard decisions. Thanks for reading, and for your comment!

  2. Boy, things sound a little chaotic and twirly in your life right now. Or maybe it is I who feels chaotic and twirly when I see how much you’re accomplishing while I sit in the corner and suck my thumb.

    Your spring is on full blast – sounds like you have it under control. Or at least you have a plan. Strength and perserverance to you!

    • I do have a plan…though I don’t deserve much more credit than that, Sara! My plan is to run full blast in every direction until I run out of steam. At that point I’ll have to settle for what I’ve accomplished to that point. It’s not a GOOD way…but it’s my way. Thanks for reading!

  3. Admiring your dedication to your garden, Cindy. We haven’t planted a single thing. I guess Barry’s total knee replacement can be used as a good excuse, but one of these days… Your after-school job teaching art sounds great. Didn’t know you were an artist, too. Wondering what your full-time job might be–and if it’s on the island. Bread and soup…be still my heart…sounds delicious!

    • I think Barry’s surgery is an outstanding reason to not worry about a garden this year. About this time last year, my Mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I knew I wanted to spend as much time as possible with her, so I didn’t plant anything. Amazingly, even when completely neglected, the garden had gifts to offer, in the way of berries and herbs and the spirit of growth and connectedness. This year, it’s the right thing to pour my energy into, at this time. Come August, when the weeds are taking over, you won’t see photos!
      Yes, I am an artist – university trained, with an MFA in Ceramics and Print-Making. Though I teach occasionally here on the island, and have my work in a few galleries around Michigan, I have never come close to supporting myself with my degree or with my art. I worked as a waitress for 21 years, until my elbows gave out and I started having nightmares about having the “world’s oldest living waitress” distinction. For the last nine years, I’ve worked in the local hardware store. Thanks for your comments, and for reading!

      • Thank you, Cindy for sharing this. I find it so interesting that “who we are” can never be limited by the jobs we do. I am sorry to hear what happened to your mom. But amazing that the garden still offered gifts in the season if its neglect. We will plant a garden this year; probably just not put so much effort into it. You have work in a few galleries around Michigan! That is so lovely. What a full rich life you’re experiencing!

  4. Yum, the meal sounds delicious, and I have to admit that I’m jealous of your garden. We have lived in apartments for longer than I can remember now (with the exception of our five glorious months in a cabin on the lake), so the luxury of having our own dirt and green space hasn’t been bestowed upon us just yet… Enjoy!

    • Oh, Dana, I feel blessed almost every day at having my garden spot here. Home maintenance can be expensive and difficult; mowing lawn is not my favorite thing. The benefits of apartment living sometimes sound good…but I’d always miss the garden. Thanks for reading!

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