Officially it's not here yet, but Mama Nature doesn't go by our calendar. It's been 10 days since the daffodils opened their trumpets, the hyacinth started showing color a few days ago, and the pear trees at work burst into blossom this afternoon. Literally--this morning, just grayish buds with a hint of pink; by 4:00, floof! White cottony blooms.
Yesterday, I walked Rosie around the pond on the dark side of dusk. As we came in, I saw the silhouette of a bat flitter across the dimly lit sky. "Wow, you're out kind of early, aren't you?" I said. As we turned to circle around, I saw two of them...and then three! I was very excited; I've never seen more than two, and I wish we had more.
I didn't grow up on a farm, exactly, but I did grow up in an old farmhouse with a full-size 19th-century barn built back into a hillside. You midwesterners know what I mean: a sweep up to the second floor for the hay wagons, livestock space below. Anyway, that barn was infested with bats. Stinky, squeaky, poo-raining bats. We did appreciate their presence as far as insect control (though if they'd come out while the deerflies were still active, I'd have appreciated it a whole lot more). However, bat droppings are incredibly corrosive, so Dad fought an ongoing, losing battle against the hordes.
Connected to the barn was a long, low-roofed shed we called the garden shop. Along with hoes, rakes, the tractor and other necessities for country living, we kept the chicken and rabbit feed in there. Which meant that many a late afternoon, when bringing in tools or scooping up the Eggmaker Crumble, I encountered one or more bats swooping around, looking for the way back out.
I was quite uncomfortable with this whole arrangement, but as I grew up, I got more or less used to them. I always wanted to keep an eye on them; they did move ridiculously fast and I didn't have a whole lot of head room...at least, that's how it felt to me. I even got up the nerve to go into the barn itself after dark--once or twice.
So seeing these bats diving around last night outside, with plenty of space, didn't bother me at all. Not even when it occurred to me that at least one of them seemed to be following us all the way around the pond. Did Rosie's snufflings stir up bugs in the grass? Was there a cloud of gnats trailing us? Or do bats instinctively know that where large mammals go, mosquitos are sure to follow?
Today I was home early enough to do our walk in daylight, and instead of bats, I saw a bluebird. I never saw a bluebird until I moved to North Carolina, and now they are frequent visitors. Must be why I'm so happy here, right? The turtles in the pond also seem to be coming out of hibernation; there were tons of them sunning themselves and popping their heads up from the water.
So I went home and finally got to do something I've been itching to do for weeks: get my hands dirty. Miss Chef finally got one of her projects crossed off her list this winter: put a wooden border around the garden to help us build the bed up (and make it easier to trim around). She also bought more bags of dirt, compost and cow manure to revitalize the soil. Which made the weeds very happy! A nice crop of them has sprouted, and I kept looking out the window at them, wanting to get at 'em with my hands and a trowel. But there was always overtime at work, or pouring rain, or a general sense of fatigue making the couch look much more inviting than weedy dirt.
Today, though, it was time. We should have had the root vegetable seeds in the ground two weeks ago, so I seized on my unexpectedly good energy and extra daylight to get started. Miss Chef is going out of town for the weekend, and I thought I'd give her a nice surprise and have everything planted when she gets home.
Except I think seeing this in the tub is about to ruin the surprise:
Dirty hands, dirty pants. Still, I can't express how grateful I am to be able to dig in the dirt this spring!