ROCKWALL, TX (March 3, 2023) It’s getting on towards March and I feel myself coming back to life.
I become slumpy in the second month of the year. Projects set aside for winter months are drudgery in February. Photo albums are stacked in the guest room, archival boxes stacked alongside, waiting for me. I am more inclined to read, or play word games on the iPad, telling myself the game is good for my brain. Projects come to a thudding halt in winter’s dregs. The garden is dormant, dull gray and brown, but for Dwarf Yaupons and evergreen trees. A few of the vines are nearly evergreen, but are sparser and lifeless in winter months.
Recently, gazing out the bedroom windows, I noticed bright yellow buds emerging on the Carolina Jessamine. Leaves still burnt from hard freeze, the sunny colored buds pop, nonetheless. Something sparks at my core, a sense of delight and excitement for what is forthcoming. Teaser days of balmy weather in February make perennials leap a bit and I begin to percolate. Smattered stretches of sunny warm days in February open me to new possibilities, I know for certain that spring will come again this year.
Bob Kilgore and I eagerly await mild mornings and radiant sun for passing the hours in The Mildscape. (Clarification for those who are new or not paying attention: Bob Kilgore is the cat. The B.O.B. is my ever-enduring husband.) Bob and I are chomping at the bit for spring. He has had a taste again, of pleasantly warm days and has difficulty comprehending why I will not accompany him outdoors on chilly, windy mornings. By the time December rolls around, Bob is accustomed to spending most of his time snoozing, making craters in the sofa’s back cushions, dozing on a thick, sheared fleece blanket in front of the fireplace, or watching the world go by from his carpeted cat perch in the study. He has poked his head out the back door enough times to know – there are no warm breezes, and is content to remain within. Once we have a smidge of warm weather, he is relentless in sitting at the door, meowing to go outside. I want to be out there too.
I am giddy in anticipation of turning over rich soil, feeding perennials and planting new plants when spring arrives. A week or two ago, I began clipping away dead growth in the garden. Dormant, dried plants remain for the birds during the winter months. Oh glory! Shearing away, I could see that all in The Mildscape seems to have survived the deep freeze of December, and the January-February ice. Mounds of green Catmint were forming under the brush. Salvia, Sedum and Abelia popping out small green leaves and buds of new plants. Garlic Chive and Lemon Balm were pushing up green grassy growth from the soil. Despite grumbling muscles, after a winter of inactivity (my Self tried and tried to talk my Self into walking on winter days, taking up yoga or strength training, to no avail) it was marvelous to be close to the soil and burgeoning perennials.
Numerous pairs of snips and the hori hori knife were left a mess when gardening season last ended. Performing a cleaning and sharpening seemed in order. Gathering up a bubbly cleaner, wire brush, old towels, a can of household oil, steel wool, a sharpening blade and rubber gloves, I went to town with a deep clean; scrubbing, burnishing and sharpening. Feeling accomplished and energized by this task, and while I had rubber gloves on and a mess in the sink already, I grabbed a few silver pieces lying around and gave them a good rub with silver polish. Not all the silver, to be sure. Polishing all the silver in the house could be a full day project. I have inherited silver, wedding gifts of my own from another era, and I am an estate sale junkie who struggles not to snatch up every piece of vintage silver. Silver pieces glowing on chests and tables, garden pruners lined up on a clean towel, I was ready to hit the dirt again.
On beautiful days, I give no thought to leaving other tasks behind, and find my way out the door, the cat dashing ahead of me, to putter about the garden. There, in my supreme place of bliss, hands and back go to work, my mind indexes the plants and the tasks, what needs to be done next, what needs propping, fed, snipped, moved. While the organized side of my brain files away the notes of garden to do’s, my psyche, my soul float away. The Mildscape is my inspiration, the impetus for introspection, a plot of growth and peace.
Next gardening day dawning gray and chilly, I pulled on a sweatshirt and old jeans, and filled another contractor’s bag with dried cuttings, pruned the roses, moved stones, created a rock border cutting off Moneywort from spreading into the Dianthus, or at least slowing it down a bit. I felt the lifeblood, sore muscles, aching hands, muddy knees, grime under my nails (I’ve yet to purchase new gloves for 2023, last years’ gloves are all worn through at the fingertips) a sparkle in my eye, joy in my heart. I do wish I had thought to warn The B.O.B. on trash day, about hand compacting that bag of thorny rose branches into the bin. Bless his heart.
The kitty toes his way through the garden, routing his path ‘round plants and small bushes. Peering under the brick wall to see what dogs, goats or horses are wandering beyond his own domain. Plunging both hands into huge mounds of dried Catmint, I tug and scrunch and dead brush comes away in a satisfying manner, leaving small, rounded molehills of tightly spaced green leaves, reaching up en masse. Bob Kilgore, goes a bit mad as he sniffs the dried, herby remains of Catmint’s intoxicating substance. The potent remains send him into a blissful daze. The Mildscape is nearly ready for another season. Prepared for blooms and herbs, bees and hummingbirds. In March, I can begin popping a few plants into the ground. My spirit springs ahead and life is hopeful again!
Today the Caroline Jessamine is covered in yellow blooms. Tiny, bright buttery yellow trumpets announce that spring is imminent. Happy March to All of Us! April cannot be far behind.
Sally Kilgore is a resident of Fate, Texas, transplanted from Rowlett, across the lake. She is married to her long-time flame, Judge Chris Kilgore. When not writing, gardening, filling in at the local flower shop or hanging out with grandkids, Sally devotes her time to serving Bob Kilgore, a well sized, Tuxedo cat with panache.
You can contact Sally at SallyAKilgore@gmail.com , or via her website SallyAKilgore.com