So many have waxed poetic about the coming and arrival of spring. (Or the serious lack thereof.) And I thought I'd just throw some confetti into the discussion about the scourge of spring -- the ugly underbelly, if you will. Because I'm cynical and contrarian like that. Muawhahahahaha. Let's get started.
Back in March, Bella and I spent a chilly Saturday indoors making newspaper seed pots, backhoeing them them with dirt, violently poking in seeds, and then drowning them in water. (I'm discovering the late three's are nothing if not subtle.) But, you know, just about every pot took off, and suddenly I became rather nervous wondering where on earth -- or IN earth, as it may be -- I would put all this eggplant, pepper, cucumber, and floral varieties.
And then April happened. It was not a good month, filled with recuperating dogs, barfy kids, sleep deprivation, thrown schedules, police reports, insurance adjusters, foot appointments, last minute parties for 50, awkward conversations. Oh, and multiple visits by architects, engineers and contractors, which necessitated moving around our boxes of seeds from room to room until I finally lost track of where they last were, and they wound up in a place not on my daily path, and then the porch needed cleaning for a party, and suddenly I realized a few days had gone by without water, and when I finally located the boxes (the ones my cat hadn't upset on the floor) they looked like this:
I am a vegetable killer. A flower murderer. The good news I suppose is that I don't need to find a place in the yard for all of this. How to explain it to the kid . . .
Spring is also a time for weeds. We have an interesting one around here:
Pretty, no? It's a weed. Onion grass. And it can't be killed by normal weed killer, only by pulling up the entire thing, bulb and all. Most people just kinda embrace them (if you can't beat it and all that), but they only look good for a bit when they're in bloom (Read: daylight hours, for about a week). The other times (weeks prior, and when the sun isn't out) they look like someone forked your lawn but with chives, and the lawn mower claims those aren't in the job description. Gotta just wait for the whole shabang to dry up and die.
And then there's the magnolia. So pretty in bloom. But the aftermath decidedly not so much:
Brown, rotting masses floating on scraggly branches while we all wait for the leaves to open and fill this thing in. Right now it just looks, well, hung over.
And then there's the volunteer maple that a neighbor gave us. No worries, he said, it's free, I don't want it, no pressure if it doesn't work out.
Clearly a case of one hand not communicating with the other.
Spring is also the time for animal babies, if the bedtime stories are to be believed. And indeed, a number of weeks ago, a neighbor emailed me that her horse (kept out in a stable by my aunt's, coincidentally) was pregnant. And you know what my first reaction was? Jealousy. Of a FUCKING HORSE! REALLY! (I'M SHOUTING!) But here's why just so you don't think I maybe need to check the meds: I was really struck by just how purely natural this all was. Animals mate, animals have babies. Duh! Just like in the storybooks. Just like PEOPLE are supposed to do. That's how we continue as a species, yes? The mating and getting pregnant and having babies sequence? Then why in holy fuck is it so difficult and convoluted and expensive and sad? And then there's the awwwww factor that just kills me. Of course my neighbor tells me all this about her pregnant horse because she wants Bella to see the future offspring. And Bella these days is ALL about mommies and babies -- one must have the other, or else there's a lot of plaintive calling, and cooing, "where are youuuuuu?" until the correct configuration of stuffed animals (or trains, or any object worthy of anthropomorphization) is achieved. (Woe to she who cannot summon baby panda at bedtime.)
But of course, assisted reproduction and death are all part of the current animal kingdom, too. My equestrian aunt informs me that most horse matings are fixed (that is to say, planned -- mating a certain stallion with a certain mare for a certain genetic mix), and many these days are done via artificial insemination to prevent any injuries during mating (hubba hubba). (not.) Ditto for many animals in captivity whose reproductive highlights and woes are splashed around the metro sections when crime dips and editors need stories. The birds around here for some reason that escapes me chose not to make nests in any number of trees on my property, but make them behind the shutters on my three story stone house. So it's rather a common spring time occurrence to walk the perimeter of said house and collect dead baby birds (and of course, hold funerals for them). And how many of us know of a litter of puppies or kittens that didn't entirely make it? (Top this: my high school boyfriend's cat had kittens, one of which died when a ceremonial mask that hung on the basement wall freakishly fell down and crushed it. I KNOW.)
Last Friday morning, completely sleep deprived, with a day of party prep ahead of me, I opened an email from my neighbor time-stamped from the middle of the night: the mare delivered her filly. The mare did not survive the birth.
I won't lie, I wept. I whipped off a consolation email, got on the phone with my aunt, and within hours had sorted out all sorts of numbers of people who knew people who helped motherless foals. I've only received a short message from my neighbor (who was also dealing with Passover that weekend) but it sounds as though so far everything is ok, and some of my cobbled-together information helped.
Spring is like this, I suppose. Full of promise, most of which works out just fine and fills our photos with buds and little fuzzy creatures, nuzzling their mamas. I'm not nearly as checked-out as last spring, but I'm not really enamored by the beauty, either. Instead, I find myself gravitating toward the missteps that -- lo and behold -- happen in nature all the time. The weeds. The ugly. The assistance. The lack of assistance. The inconceivable deaths. The inevitable deaths. I'm too cynical to find beauty in any of this, but I am finding that I'm not alone in my reproductive mishap, and perhaps feeling a little less statistically challenged. Not that I'll do it again, mind you, but that I have a bit of company in the "it shouldn't happen that way" department.