Sunday, April 10, 2011

Life Lessons

Yesterday was an absolutely great Spring gardening day in Kansas.  Well, almost, except for the sustained 20 mph winds with gusts to 40 that set in by mid-afternoon.  But otherwise it was everything a gardener could ask for, although some might argue that it would be nice to give plants, and the unacclimated gardener, a day in the 70F or 80F range before we go from the 60's to 92F, as it was yesterday.  Straight from winter to summer as usual.

I puttered in my garden doing a lot of the odd chores that need done this time of year.  A little transplanting, a little more trimming, a little early weeding, a little watering of new plants.  I edged some planned future beds with landscaping stone, laying out the shape of the beds in my usual haphazard arrangement.  I took note of the continued increase in the Magnolia stellata flowers and the opening of my first lilac to bloom, 'Annabel'.  And, checking that wondrous source, the Internet, I discovered that the leading edge of the Purple Martin migration had been sighted in this region two days previously and so I placed out my Purple Martin houses.  Twenty minutes later, five Martins and a bunch of sparrows were duking it out for the housing.  It is astonishing how quickly the Martins, which I had not yet this year seen in evidence, detected the house.  Where did they come from?

I also participated in a Faculty-Senior student softball game late in the afternoon.  I probably hadn't touched a softball for almost 40 years, but I was lucky and got on base my first time at bat with an anemic hit.  The next batter up hit a ground ball to shortstop and, sprinting slowly to second base, the buried instincts of my 12-year-old self assessed the situation and commanded the 51-year-old body to SLIDE.  And slide, I did: not the face-first slide of a manic Pete Rose, but still an impressive feet-first slide that brought me to second base before the ball.

At that instant I had, for me, an astonishing epiphany and I learned a couple of important life lessons right there on 2nd base.  First, that the instincts and training of a 12-year-old are still buried deep all these years later and that they will surface when called upon, albeit with a less supple and higher-body-fat frame to command.  Second, I learned that the instincts and training of a 12-year-old do not include the likelihood of the presence of car keys in one's back pocket when a slide is attempted, having had no experience at that time with driving anything more powerful than a bicycle or lawnmower.  I now have an egg-sized bruise on my gluteus maximus that hurts while I sit and type this blog.  It would have been nice if some 51-year-old wisdom would have given me the foresight to move the keys to the front pocket. At least it wasn't my cell phone.

It is the same in the garden.  The 12-year-old inside us knows instinctively which weeds to pull and how to grasp them to get them up roots and all.  The 51-year-old knows to wear gloves for the stickery ones and knows that the first sunny Spring day in the 90's is not the time to stay out in the sun all day in the garden.  Well, it should be that way most of the time.  Excuse me while I go find some aloe vera.


  1. Ouch. sorry about keys. Glad to hear the 12-year-old instincts are still there. We're still waiting for spring around here. had the 70 degree month in February, when it was completely useless, and now we are back to friggin' winter when we need to be out in the garden! Plus the ground is all dried out and everything needs watering, but the hoses are frozen! Wah.

  2. Loved the telling of your day, Professor. Anemia and bruise notwithstanding, you had an excellent softball day! Hopefully, some other 12-year-old in a 50-year-old body had a good day, too, and hit you home. The sun was incredibly hot here yesterday. Summer in April??


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