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Let’s Dig In the Dirt

I sat looking out at a blue-gray sky filled with streaky white clouds. If I am patient, I will see what I came for at this early evening hour.

A few more minutes and it happened. Slowly, methodically, as if God himself was tugging at it, the orange ball of sun slipped ever so slowly into the western sky. The beauty of this celestial show brings a calm, a peacefulness to the homestead.

The turkeys have hop-skipped back into the woods after giving us a peek at their mating dance. The deer, too, are edging closer to the safety of the trees, glancing over their shoulders at me as I give them one last look before nightfall. They are becoming accustomed to us standing at the sliding door, looking over the herd. The coyotes are quiet tonight, perhaps anticipating another rainfall that is predicted. I sense the rain in my bones and watch the tops of the tall trees begin to move with the wind.

Soon it is gone. The sun has moved on to the west where tennis matches and golf games are played longer into the evening hours. Earlier I heard the sound of a tractor in the neighbor’s field. The smell of freshly turned earth wafted across the hill.

Farmers have been lamenting the early spring chill. They wish for a little more sunshine to warm the earth and provide a comfortable welcome for the seeds already purchased down at the co-op. The husband looks at the yard and remarks how green the grass is. I say it’s about time. Such a harsh winter had us wondering if anything would grow again. Of course, it will.

Winter has finally, hopefully yielded to the calendar, relinquishing its hold on us. Earlier we walked the property, assessing Old Man Winter’s damage. We cut back the dead tree limbs and nuisance sticker bushes that grabbed at our pant legs. The lawn mower blades are sharpened, ready for the inaugural grass cutting.

I have been digesting the pages of a book snagged from my mother’s crowded book shelves. It’s called “The Lazy Gardener.” I have pored over seed catalogs and researched via the Farmer’s Almanac, looking for the best advice and ideas for a vegetable garden. Neighbors have indicated a desire to indulge in a community-type garden plot. The thought of more people willing to pull weeds and faithfully water the earth is appealing.

Neighbor Karina and I are insisting on a pumpkin patch. This was met with groans from the men folk. Pumpkins need a lot of room, they say. The deer and rabbits will eat the plants. We push on and purchase pumpkin seeds that promise jack-o-lanterns and white ghost gourds.

Digging in the earth is good for the body and soul. The challenges will be big and small, from critters to hail. Yet we look at this garden endeavor as a sort of spit-in-the-eye of that awful winter. We survived. So will our tomatoes and beans, and yes, pumpkins, Lord willing. And if not, we can always pull up the lawn chairs and watch the sun set over the trees and head to Jebbia’s in the morning.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at hziegler@theintelligencer.net or 1500 Main St., Wheeling, WV 26003.

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