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Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Rongs of Spring: This season offers plenty to gripe about

A rabbit enjoys the tall grass in this Annandale backyard.

By Annandale humorist Robert Schwaninger

Now that Spring has sprung and pollen hangs in the air like a green fog that covers cars, cats, and nasal passages with dusty abandon, we can look forward to the blossoming of flowers, the buzz of bees, and our neighbor cutting his grass at 6 a.m. on a Saturday. Yes, Spring, the season that has been ill-advertised for centuries as a wonderful time is, in fact, the beginning of challenges that break the formerly frozen ground of our senses and fall upon us like a bag of wet mulch.

For months we have been able to cheerfully hibernate, taking liberal naps on winter afternoons, while finding time to read books while wrapped snugly in a warm, woolen throw. Sure there is the small inconvenience of snowfall that might require a bit of shoveling, but compared to the endless hours of lawn mowing that lies ahead, that cold weather shovel work is nothing.

Now our car must be cleaned because we lack the excuse of winter slush that just makes the job fruitless. Our flower beds must now be filled because empty boxes make us look lazy and uncaring. And our lawns should be green and lush like our neighbor’s who is retired and must own equity in Scotts.

It is this time of year when I develop the vilest of thoughts about the people on the street with a lawn service. Their lawns are green and uniform and remind me of a large patch of Velcro, all without pushing a mower or inhaling chemicals that will likely cause me to grow an extra appendage one day. Or the guys that plunked down two grand for the best riding mower. Their lawn care is a mechanized pony ride in circles around their yard.

As I drive past these motorized riders they smile and wave and gun it a bit to show that they’re serious about their lawns. I wave back and think, “if you ain’t pushin,’ you ain’t workin.’” Then I pull into my driveway and haul out my push mower to begin to even out the various species of weeds in my lawn, making sure that the foxtail, crabgrass, and chickweed are trimmed to the same height as the 20 percent of lawn that is actual grass.

While not battling Mother Nature in the name of slavery to suburban conformity, we find that there is no escape from bushels of chores by retreating indoors. Some fool came up with the idea of “spring cleaning” as though we hadn’t lifted bucket or rag since October. But for reasons that bear no explanation, this is another ritualistic trap into which we allow ourselves to fall. Soon we are on our knees scrubbing floors and high on ladders taking a home run swing at cobwebs. 

It is then when a family member notes that which would have been best left ignored. They will say something like, “now that we can open the windows, we should paint.” I am among those persons who hate to paint. Paint has no structural use that I can see. Paint adds no value to the house. Paint is drudgery in a can and requires moving furniture, using drop cloths, and being yelled at for wearing the wrong pants to start the job.

And don’t get me started on raking fallen seeds, pulling weeds, filling the birdbath, cutting the ivy, planting tomatoes, power washing the deck, staining the fence and the endless battle with every twisting, thorny vine that the Commonwealth can grow. Topped off with my annual case of poison ivy. 

Ah Spring! A time of growth. A time of renewal. A time to refill my supply of Claritin and Ben-Gay.

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