Spring is totally here in Pasadena: it's misty or foggy in the mornings, and cool enough to wear a shell when I jog around the neighborhood. Then it burns off around noon and we enjoy cool breezes and temperatures in the mid 70s until the sun goes down. It's perfect planting, barbequing, and sitting-on-the-patio-with-a-nice-cigar weather. The thing is, our patio (and all of our yard, actually) has really gone to hell over Winter, so Ryan and Nolan and I gave Anne a landscaped and cleaned up yard for Mother's Day.
I spent the entire day yesterday up to my knees in turned soil and roly poly bugs while my dogs did their best to help me out by digging holes where I'd recently stuck some new plants into the ground. The kids helped clean out overgrown grasses and piles of leaves we'd allowed to collect in the corners of the yard, and Anne and I transplanted some huge lavender bushes from the front yard to the planter beneath our kitchen window (boy, the fragrance of lavender drifting through that window can almost make washing dishes not completely suck.)
The smell of wet grass and freshly turned earth is everywhere: when I sit in my office, it comes up from the back yard; when I take my Powerbook into my living room and sit on the couch (where I am right now,) it comes in from the patio . . . and there are birds everywhere! I hung bird feeders with songbird mix and socks filled with Nyjer seed all around my yard, and filled up the birdbath on the patio as the sun was setting last night, and this morning there are close to thirty birds, from gold finches to blue jays to white tufted titmouses (titmice?) singing and chirping and making my yard the peaceful sanctuary I've always wanted it to be.
The best part? I spent $139 dollars on plants and soil and fertilizer and crap, and the looks and feels more like a thousand bucks. In about a month, if these plants take off the way we think they will, Anne and I are going to have several flowerbeds filled with beautiful native plants.
There's still work to be done: the elm needs to be thinned, the palm tree needs to be cleaned up before it can dump sixty pounds of seeds and junk into my grass, and I have an entirely overgrown side yard that needs to be totally cleaned out and landscaped (it's been the "let's do that next" project since we moved in six years ago), but the work we did this weekend -- as a family, no less -- is just awesome. I have lately felt like I'm working very hard without a whole lot to show for it, and it gives me a much-needed sense of accomplishment to walk into my back yard and see the results of the work we did. I wish I'd taken before and after photos, because it's pretty incredible.
I've been writing all morning, and now I can go out into the back and enjoy its growing sense of peace and sanctuary. I may even take a cigar with me, just because I can.