There’s No Place Like Home … When You Have to Be There

It’s that time of the year again, when spring snow turns to brown slush and melts away, exposing everything that’s wrong with your house. That’s right – it’s home and garden season! For those of us who’ve spent the last 100 days mostly indoors, it hardly seems fair that as the days lengthen, the weather clears, and the temperatures warm, we have to turn our attention homeward. I for one would much rather spend the coming days romping in the mountains. Regardless, home and garden, like taxes, require annual tending and the call is most urgent in the springtime.

For me, it won’t be a pretty sight. It’s been a brutal winter for my house and yard. Here on the northwest side, the winter winds whip along the foothills, blasting the neighborhoods and carrying off shingles, fence slats, and small pets. Tucked against the Rampart Range, our little hillside valley seems to attract an extra serving of the white stuff at each snowfall. It slides off my driveway and puddles in the road, refreezing into a small ice pond bordered by a ragged glacier. As it melts, bits of neighborhood flotsam and jetsam appear, the wind’s castoffs from trash days gone by.

I generally like the wind, especially in the fall when it blows all my leaves across the street and into the neighbor’s yard. Trash days present a special treat on windy days: a sustained gust can push the big plastic bins-on-wheels down the middle of the road for blocks before they collide with a car or a herd of unsuspecting deer. The blue recycle bins are lighter and can get a lot of speed going, but they tend to topple over before the heavier brown ones. If they can stay upright, the blue bins usually make it to the end of the block first. After an especially drafty day, people wander the streets in the evening, searching for their wayward garbage and recycle bins. Since they aren’t named or numbered, it’s pretty much a free-for-all. You just have to find a brown one and a blue one and roll them into your garage before somebody else claims the pair.

Trash can races and leaf-blowing aside, the wind mostly just tears things up around my house, and around this time of year, I have to deal with it. Like get out there and actually fix things. I don’t mind, though. Home improvement is fun. I do a little bit each year, enough to satisfy anyone worried about home values, curb appeal, and – for the Airbnb homeowners – what the neighborhood looks like on Google Earth. This year the list is long: seal the driveway joints, repair and paint the fence, replace some of the sprinkler heads, reseed the lawn, finish the front porch, and put in a backyard deck. I also have to move the seven tons of rock I put down years ago, replace the weed proof barrier, and put all those rocks back. And do something about the shingles, slats, and small pets trapped in that melting glacier.

After those chores, I need to plant a vegetable garden. My indoor herb garden went crazy over the winter and I need to grow potatoes to go with the chives, tomatoes for the sage, soybeans for the dill, and tacos for the cilantro. Mmm … I wish there really were such a thing as taco plants. I would be out there digging in the yard right now!

So that’s my “outside of the house” list. I haven’t even thought about an inside list. We’ll save that one for the fall. Now all I need is a little inspiration, so I may head out to one of the home and garden events going on this month. Pikes Peak Urban Gardens has some cool things planned, like a Wildscaping class. I have no idea what that is, but it sounds like something I need to do immediately. Even more exciting than composting with worms. The Bear Creek Nature Center and Pikes Peak Library District are hosting gardening and composting events, and some of them actually do involve worms. I’ve been thinking of getting a pet and worms might be just the ticket – they feast on table scraps and unlike the typical pet’s yard droppings or litter box, they actually give something useful back.

I’ll need to get started on all this soon so I can enjoy a few weeks of growth before hail season begins. One good storm could wipe out the whole garden, and one wide-eyed doe and her wobbly fawns will likely ravage whatever potato, tomato, and taco plants survive. For now, I think I’ll sit out on the front step for a while. It’s trash day, the wind’s starting to pick up, and I’ve got five bucks on blue for the win!

This blog first appeared as a column in the March 13, 2019 Gazette Woodmen Edition.

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