April 27, 2011

Spring Rituals

There is something about the hopefulness and excitement of doing early spring chores that makes them feel like more than just work needing to be done. The word ritual, implying a ceremonial event, one repeated regularly and with a certain amount of reverence, seems apt. Each spring, when the garlic and tulips emerge from the ground, it is time for me to put up the electric fence around the vegetable garden to preserve them, and all the coming vegetable crops, from hungry deer and smaller mammals such as woodchucks. I spread peanut butter inside pieces of aluminum foil and wrap them around the fence; the strong smelling peanut butter attracts animals, but once they try tasting and get a very uncomfortable zap, they won't come near the garden again.

My second garden task/ritual is to lay out the rows, placing stakes for each one, measuring spaces between. I love doing this, walking around the bare––well, slightly weedy––ground, making order, envisioning the crops to come. Today, which started as gray and foggy and turned into a spectacular mild spring day, I planted peas and spinach, even though the ground is still very wet from incessant snows and rain. Kneeling on the ground and placing seeds in prepared furrows, pushing the soil back over them, I feel as though I am performing a ceremony. There is still sheer magic for me in plants growing from small seeds.

Another of my ceremonies is putting out the rain gauge which was in a cupboard all winter. I like keeping track of rainfall and mark each rain in my calendar.

One of the things I most look forward to is the first day I can hang laundry out of doors. There is the ritual of removing warm, fuzzy flannel sheets and making the bed with cool white cotton. The scent of sweet fresh air brought into the house with the sheets is delicious.

And finally, the first bouquet of fresh flowers brought into the house, made up of two small very early daffodils: Jet Fire with the orange cup and February Gold with the yellow. It is time to put the bunches of dried flowers on the compost pile and make ready for the grand parade of color to come.


  1. what a beautiful, heartfelt account of spring -- seen through accumulated wisdom!

  2. Very heartening, I will live vicariously!

  3. thanks rappel, but I certainly don't feel wise, practiced maybe.
    Julie, spring is with you in the city too, isn't it?

  4. I can just about smell that clean laundry smell; yummy. Still more cold and rainy here than anything else. I did not know how that fencing works so was interested in that insight. I did put out my rain gauge but I am not back in the habit of checking it and don't know exactly what rain fell when; just know the tube has over an inch in it tonight!

  5. Altoon, I've read a lot about gardening, but never met with the "peanut butter wraps" until your post! I think that the act of burying the seed in soil is one of pure faith, the belief that something green will emerge from the stillness contained in the seed. Your vivid yellow daffodils remind me of May Sarton's "Journal of a Solitude." An avid gardener, she loved to write about her daffodils.

  6. thanks for the comments, Ms. Wis. and Hannah. A friend sent me a Jane Kenyon quote about laundry hung outdoors: "At dusk I took the blanket in and we slept, restless, under its fragrant weight."
    I think I should read May Sarton again; it's been years since I read "Journal of a Solitude".