September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
Spring is surely the finest season
But not on this day. This day was different. It was the first warm day that really felt like spring. So we all plodded along together - the tractor and spreader in the lead, me, and a string of cars and trucks trailing along behind.
This is a late spring. It stepped in, then slipped out, only to take baby steps back in again. Warm days were followed by cold ones; sunshine was followed by chilly rain.
But it's getting on toward the end of May now, and I can scarcely believe we are already at Memorial Day. Many farmers have been behind in their work, and I am behind in mine.
The garden is partly tilled, but not entirely planted. However, I have gotten 10 fruit trees into the ground.
My small orchard consists of four apple trees and two each of pear, peach and plum. Two of the larger apple trees have leafed out nicely, and the Jonathan Red has graced our hillside with pink-and-white blooms.
When I visit my fledgling orchard, the philosopher in me emerges. How optimistic, I think, a person must be to dig a hole, insert what looks to be merely a lifeless stick, and expect it to one day, possibly years from now, bear fruit. Are we planters of trees irrational? Or are we eternally hopeful?
It's the same with farmers. They place seeds into the ground and wait, expecting the small packages of miracles to germinate, take root, reach skyward, and bear crops.
It used to be that summer was my favorite season. And why not? School was out and I had a farm near Richland Center, and later one near Seneca, to explore and embrace.
With my father semi-retired and raising beef, there was but one cow to fetch into the barn and milk. Making hay, repairing fences, and helping my industrious dad with his carpentry work around the place still left plenty of time for fishing in the creek, climbing trees, and languishing in the shade with a good book.
Later, autumn became my favorite season. It still dazzles me with its brilliant display of leaf color and the bluest of skies. Neither does it hurt that my birthday falls in October.
Winter has never been my favorite time of year. It will be a very cold day in Wisconsin, I expect, when I embrace winter above the other seasons.
I'm not sure when it happened, but spring has taken over the top spot on my calendar. Just the very word, spring evokes images of new life leaping out of the ground.
The asparagus I planted last spring is tall and green. We even tasted a few spears recently. The rhubarb crowns I nestled in the ground four seasons ago are not only up, but leafy and bawdy in their corner of the garden.
Along the wooded ravines by our house, wildflowers riot with their color. Seedling trees are everywhere beneath their gigantic ancestors. And in a select few secret spots, the morels - those tasty sponge mushrooms - have again popped mysteriously up for a few short weeks.
Beyond the woods, the neighbor's beef cows, trailed by their calves, again graze. In my garden, the tomato plants have settled in, the potatoes have opened their eyes, and the early sweet corn has pierced through to the light in neat, straight ranks.
In my office upstairs, I have the sliding glass door open, and the spring breeze waltzes in, ruffling papers and making a small mess. But I do not care.
Beyond the door, I can see the Crawford County landscape, green and growing after escaping the icy grip of a long and fretful winter. Here's to Spring.