Leap Day

It’s a whole extra day, an odd and lovely gift of time, Leap Day. So, I decide to make it a holiday, a private midweek Sunday.

Because it’s warm and sunny and only just breezy, it would have been a good day to start the 2012 professional gardening season. Only when I woke up, I thought, “What’s the rush? It’s still February.” So I suspended the plan.

It took almost the whole morning for all my systems to get on board with the decision. You know how it is: Your conscience follows you around, looking at the door every time you pass it, as if to ask you when we’re leaving.

I put on jeans and a hoody and went outside to clear some tools from the back of my truck. Took care of some junk that had accumulated behind the seat, too. Contact with truck and tools spelled w-o-r-k to my conscience, and her tension eased.

I picked up the side yard, scene of a wind tunnel during the last blow. I rinsed out an old day pack, resurrecting it for summer use. I found a billed cap behind the seat of the truck inscribed “Plays in the Dirt”. It got a quick scrub, and both cap and knapsack went out to the clothes line to dry. “Oh,” said my conscience, “we’re getting ready to start the season. What a good idea.”

After lunch (a virtuous salad), still in my jeans and hoody, I hopped in the driver’s side of the truck, tapped the accelerator twice, turned the key, and she started right up. My conscience loves to go for rides and took the shotgun position, her nose pressed to the window.

We went to Tony’s Saw Shop over on Prospect Street. When I came out carrying my newly sharpened loppers, pruners, and shears, you’d think I was carrying a bag of bones, the way my conscience acted. On the drive back home, she circled three times, curled up on the seat, and I didn’t hear from her the rest of the afternoon.

I spent two hours shearing down the stalks out on the parking median. I’m glad I left them up. Glad I let winter have it’s way. But they are becoming featureless, now, and it’s time they were recycled.

I slice through a stand of hyssop, and the summery smell of rootbeer is still there. Kids on after school bike rides, roll around the corner saying hi. A boy in his early teens, walking up the sidewalk, smiles and asks “How’s it going?” Dale, from a few houses up the street, walks over to ask me about which trash service I use. He has nice white hair and a mustache, always waves, always says, “Hello, Cheryl.”

Just moments after I take myself inside, happy conscience in tow, three brightly clad girls walk through the open gate and up to the porch. Triangular headscarves, printed with fuchsia, lime, aqua, orange and purple bubbles, hold back their hair. “Want to buy some Girl Scout Cookies?” they chime.

I laugh, “Could you say that in any more unison?” They look puzzled. “Sure!” I add.

It feels as though I’ve been away from the gardenhood for a very long time. What a homecoming. I think I won’t wait four years to declare another holiday.

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