In North Georgia, there’s not a more glorious time of year than spring. Long-timers around here joke that it’s the best 48-72 hours of the year.
Spring hits hard here, sometimes it seems out of nowhere, pushing the gloom and chill of winter aside with the suddenness of a Northerner. The Georgia summer, of course, is always close behind, its hot breath and sweaty armpits waiting impatiently on the porch.
But when spring hits, it can be breathtaking. The azaleas at The Masters. Our next door neighbor’s tree. The fricking pollen.
That’s Brodie on the top of this post (^), a few weeks ago, venturing out onto our abandoned deck to check out all the blooming going on. The deck is void of all furniture, as it is every spring, because of what you see there; pollen by the bucketsfull, pollen that is so thick and so insidious that we have to take our faux-wicker furniture down to the basement to keep the pollen from alighting forever in the furniture’s cracks and crevasses.
In the beginning of spring here, if you leave your car out on the street for an hour, you get a dusting of pollen. You’ll see ultra-careful longtimers walking around in surgical masks. You’ll see the rest of us snotty-nosed and hacking, with eyes streaming, waiting for a good rain.
Pollenageddon usually lasts a couple weeks until either other pollen takes over — the yellow stuff on the deck, I am told, is pine pollen — and everybody gets sufficiently drugged up with allergy medicine, or everything stops blooming.
Once you can go outside again, though, this is the best time of year here. Everything’s greened up nicely. The temperatures haven’t hit the high 80s yet, the nights are cool, and the warm-season grass that’s in most of our yards hasn’t yet got to growing to the point where we all need to cut it weekly.
But … (Sorry. I like to think there’s not always a “but.” But, this time …)
Spring also brings *sigh* spring chores. And one of those, most years (probably should be every year, but it’s a chore, so …) is freshening up the pine straw beds in the yard.
First off: Why do I have to pay for pine straw when it falls by the ton all over my back yard? We have, I’m guessing, 50 pine trees in our yard. In the fall, you can’t see the yard for all the pine needles. That, as they say in the news biz, is a fact.
Yet, for some reason, repurposing those pine needles, urging them to fall perfectly in the beds — under the trees and the bushes, alongside the house — just somehow doesn’t work.
So I end up paying some pine straw farmer, who evidently invested in a machine years ago to pick up pine needles and separate them from pine cones and sticks and other assorted pine detritus, $4.60 a pine straw bale so he can plop 50 of them in my driveway. I could’ve paid $5something a bale and had him scatter it all over the place, but I’m paying $4.60 a bale for junk that falls onto my lawn anyway, and I’m supposed to pay that AND pay someone to Appleseed it around? C’mon!
The photo immediately above (^) is of the bed in our front yard before we got to spreading the pine straw around. It seems like it wouldn’t be too much of a job — pine straw is not heavy — but (another but) there’s a lot of bending over to separate the flakes of each bale, and then a lot of shaking to poof up the beds to a preferred depth of 1-3 inches. And soon-to-be-summer’s hot damn breath is all over you the whole time.
(That bed is pretty big, too, as you see, because the tree there that was 10-feet tall when we moved in is now 30-plus feet tall and it throws out a whole lot of grass-killing shade. We’ll probably put some more rocks or more shade-tolerant bushes in there one of these days.)
After a few hours of bending and tossing and bending and tossing and tucking straw under at the edges so it doesn’t get into my sun-starved front “lawn” (question marks so apropos there), this is what it looks like:
I know. A lot of pine straw, right? You can’t even see our “boulders” (really, big stones). But, the whole bed will calm down a little over the course of the next few weeks, and at least it’s better than dying lawn. And, not for nothing, that bed of pine straw should be enough to keep the Homeowners Association cops out of our hair and off our damn lawn, too.
Soon enough, probably not long after I get back from my annual golfing trip to South Carolina with my brothers, I’ll have to break out the dang mower and the dang blower and maybe the dang edger and get on the lawn. Back yard, too:
(Yep. A lot of pine straw there as well.)
When I was in college, my first good roommate (not counting Ed the Head, who was my first, but not good) wanted to put some Astroturf in the living area of our room. It was a concrete floor anyway, so I was all for it, especially because he was paying.
Artie went out to buy it, laid it down and it was, throughout Irish C, a big hit. Friends came from all over to check it out. It was … unique.
I’ve often thought of doing the same to the yard, both back and front. (Some friends have a portion of their back yard fake-turfed over so their aging dog can do her business there. A little squirt-off with the hose and everything’s good.)
As a last but, though; that won’t work here. The HOA bastards won’t allow it. And I’d probably have to blow off the pine straw in the fall and surround the turf with pine straw in the spring anyway.
Yard work. Spring. Pollen. Pine straw. Sheesh. When’s winter get here again?