When Hope Springs Eternal

Yes, the image was photoshopped, but it is a real butterfly on my one sunflower.

It is possible to spend six solid hours doing yard work if I am listening to an audio book.

Not while mowing or using the weed whacker because I don’t want to turn the volume up to ear splitting. The trick is to break it down. A little mowing then listen to a disk while weeding the flowerbeds. A little weed-whacking then listen to a disk while planting new seedlings, or pruning, or pouring kitty litter down gopher holes or whatever needs doing in your yard/garden.

Repeat until you are too exhausted to continue or dark, whichever comes first.

Got my first strawberry; smaller and sweeter than the woody monsters in the grocery store. The trick is to keep everything else that likes strawberries from eating your little crop first, from the smallest bug to, say, a good sized deer. I do this with both a pet-safe pesticide and a big deer net (that keeps everything bigger than a moth out). Growing the strawberries in a raised bed is particularly helpful out here in the backcountry where birds and critters abound. The only question is, do I eat each sweet berry as it becomes ripe or do I freeze them and possibly make jam?

Speaking of birds, I wish it were that easy to keep them off my sunflowers. Last year only one of two dozen seedlings made it to maturity. If you plant the seed directly in the ground, chances are that something will come along and eat the seed. If it makes it to seedling status, something will chew on the leaves. If it grows tall enough to actually produce some young seeds, the birds will peck them out before they reach maturity. I do all three—plant seeds in the ground, transplant seedlings I start in egg cartons, and try to keep birds off the maturing plants by hanging shiny stuff around them.

Like I said, only one plant made it to maturity last year but it was so gorgeous that I snapped the photo that I now use as my Google picture ID. I’m planting a bunch more this year. HOPE springs eternal every spring.

By the way, the book was Angela’s Ashes—so sad.

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