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The Lilac Bush

Blossoming lilac in garden has fragrant scent

By the last week in April, the weather finally warmed enough here in the northwest corner of New Mexico that there was little chance of frost. So a couple of days ago, I planted my garden space in a corner of my back yard. It's big enough for a variety of vegetables but not so big that it's too hard to weed.


I love spending time in the garden, because I am so focused on digging a space for each starter plant or seed that I don't think about anything else. After I dig a hole, I add a little soil enhancer and some water. Then I carefully plant the vegetable or seed and cover it up before adding more water.


I have tomatoes, sweet red peppers, sweet peas, green beans, basil, cilantro, cucumbers, curly kale, romaine lettuce, a green lettuce whose name I can't remember, butternut squash, and cantaloupe growing in my garden. I have also planted some marigolds, because they help to repel squash bugs. I will add russet potatoes in about a week.


There will be weeding, watering, and waiting for the plants to mature so I can savor their taste. I look forward to the wonderful tossed salads I can make with vegetables from my own little garden. I can hardly wait to sample the butternut squash and cantaloupe! When the sweet peas and green beans are ready to pick, I sometimes pop them in my mouth and relish their delightful taste.


A lilac bush in the corner of the garden added color to my garden planting efforts. Its purple blossoms had just opened. Lilacs are beautiful for such a short time that I felt fortunate to have their fragrant scent surround me. It helped to make the gardening experience even more enjoyable.


While I was planting my garden, I also had time to notice the two spruce trees in my yard and the elm tree in my neighbor's yard. New leaves are sprouting on the elm, and lots of pine cones have fallen around the spruce trees. I don't take as much time to notice those trees when I'm not working in my garden.


If you get a chance to plant your own garden this spring, I hope you have a wonderful time doing it. There is something invigorating about being outside and working with the soil. And there is the anticipation of watching your garden grow until the delicious vegetables are big enough to pick and eat!

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What Helps You Know Spring Is Coming?

As I trimmed a rose bush in my back yard this week so it will be ready for warmer spring weather, I looked at other plants outside my house. Were buds starting to swell yet? No, it still isn't time for bushes and trees to start blooming in the area where I live. But as the weeks progress and the weather slowly starts to warm, they will sense that warming up time. When their intricate inner mechanisms tell them that blooming season has arrived, it will be time for buds to swell, for fruit trees to start the blooming process, for grass to green up, and for the neighborhood to sparkle with color.


If trees and bushes and other plants can tell when it's time for spring, how do we know that spring is coming? Do we also have an inner clock? Does something tell us warmer weather is on the way even while we still bundle up in our sweaters and jackets?


I imagine that we each have our own ways of telling when spring is on its way. Not only can we see that the thermometer is slowly climbing into higher digits, but we notice it doesn't take quite so many layers of clothing to stay warm outside.


Perhaps, like the plants, we have an inner mechanism that tell us when spring is coming too. Do we start to feel a little more excited? Now that January is finally over, does it seem like spring is less far away?  Do we feel the anticipation of warmer weather, of working in the garden, of playing with friends outside in weather that doesn't make our cheeks turn red with cold?


Here's a thought. If you could draw a picture of what your inner mechanism of spring's approach looks like inside of you, what would you draw? Would you draw a hidden away switch somewhere between your heart and your brain? Or would you draw something you can see outside of yourself? Would you draw yourself standing beside a bush surrounded by snow that holds its head high with the hope of spring? Would you draw a picture of your dog rolling joyfully on its back in grass still yellow with winter's sleep?


If you do decide to draw such a picture, once you're done, talk about it with your family. Ask how they sense that spring is coming. Hang your picture up in your room or on the refrigerator, or show it to your friends and ask them what their inner spring sensor looks like. You all will likely have different ideas to share. Have fun!

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