Daphne’s back so it must be spring. Daphne is the duck who unaccountably chose my sister’s yard for her nest three years ago and has returned faithfully to it every year since. Judy tried to discourage her by planting flowers and shrubs in the spot where she builds her nest. Daphne apparently saw this as Judy’s attempt to make her eggs even safer from the seagulls that circle overhead and gratefully snuggled down amidst the plants.
Judy wouldn’t mind the whole situation so much were it not for the fact that Daphne gets very possessive of her space which is smack up against the wall of Judy’s porch. Whenever Judy invites company to savor the cool fresh breezes wafting in from the bay across the street by sitting on her porch, Daphne rises up like a crazed Phoenix and harasses them till they leave.
All of which still wouldn’t be so bad were it not for the fact that Daphne is definitely not one of the brighter ducks in existence. Her first clutch rotted in the nest. Judy found this out when a visiting dog discovered them a year later and accidentally broke one in his mouth. The smell could apparently be detected for miles. The dog’s owner, who still had an hour’s drive with him in the car to get home, was distinctly unamused.
The second clutch made out only slightly better. Hatching that clutch entailed the town’s police department, public works department and road crews. Seems one of the chicks fell into a sewer drain and the mother was standing above it hysterical while the chick cried out from within it. People came knocking on Judy’s door at 6 AM to inform her that her duck had a problem that was keeping them awake.
So Daphne’s reappearance this year did not in any way enhance my sister’s general joy at the approach of spring and summer. Or, as she refers to it, spring and beach season.
While I visited with her during the onset of spring, she went a bit mad about getting her lawn and flowerbeds into shape. I watched from the porch as she grunted and groaned over tugging an unruly bush out that had roots over sixty feet deep (no, seriously, 60 feet). I reluctantly allowed myself to be involved in picking out perennials for her to plant. I even more reluctantly agreed to help repaint her porch. To be honest, I thought the poor woman had gone slightly mad in her sudden desire to do things outside her house. I barely can raise enthusiasm for doing things inside the house, like dusting and washing floors.
Then I came home and Anchorage went into a period of sunshine and heat that can only be called frightening by those of us who moved here for the cold. Suddenly I found myself drawn to the outside despite the sun and heat. I looked around and noticed that most of my neighbors had apparently also gone through whatever fit has seized my sister. Their lawns and yards were beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that when my lawn service showed up and asked me to define the parameters of my yard, I could tell them to just look for where the green ended and the straw began.
At this point it became obvious to me that my neighbors were not ready to share in my celebration of the lowly dandelion as a flower for all ages. I would actually have to get involved with dirt up close and personal.
So I went to a nursery and bought one of every perennial I could find. I figured if I had to do this, I only wanted to do it once and perennials are supposed to magically reappear every year. It wasn’t till after I got home and planted them in the bare spots around my house that I now refer to as my flowerbeds that someone mentioned the phrase “hardening the plant”.
As far as I’m concerned, god doesn’t harden plants before they grow in her earth so why should I. These plants are meant to live outdoors and I don’t see why I need to mollycoddle them to get them to do just that.
As for my lawn, I don’t see where straw is such an ugly substance. And should the cavalry need to quarter their horses on my land, I’ll have enough food to keep them till fall. At which point I plan to contract for a major cement project. Then I’ll just paint the cement green and never have to leave off from sipping my ice tea on my deck again.