Autumn is my absolute favorite season, but spring, for me, is a very close second. I remember the feeling of "spring fever." It's been a few years since I've experienced the phenomenon. But it's a real and true thing that happens in March, April and May. The smell of the air, the sounds of the birds, the look of the sky, all are contributing factors to a strange sensation that overwhelms you with such a sense of pure joy and happiness. It's hard to explain, this spring fever. If you've ever felt it, lived it, experienced it you know exactly what I'm talking about. It makes you want to take a deep breath and close your eyes and smile. It's like an endorphin rush. It's like being in love for the first time. And it's all due to a change in season? I'm not so sure that it hasn't to do with something more. I'll have to research that.
As the years pass by, I have noticed that "special feeling" of spring tends to escape me now. I wish for it, I try to make it happen, but somehow I only can grasp a small sense of what it was. It makes me sad that I have a hard time capturing that feeling anymore.
But here is what I do know. It's the flowers. The flowers of spring are what bring me to the edge of spring fever bliss. But not just any flowers. I'm talking about the wildly fragrant and carefree blooming spirits of lily of the valley and lilacs. Maybe it's because my backyard was full of them when I was growing up, or maybe it's because I have a melancholy nature and appreciate their beauty more than some. All I know is when my yard is blooming with lavender lilacs and tiny white, bell shaped flowers of the lilies I feel like I'm 20 years old again, and in love, and filled with spring fever joy.
There is a reason someone coined the phrase "stop and smell the roses." I'd like to be the one to change that phrase to "stop and smell the lilacs" or "stop and smell the lilies." I think it's so much more poignant. Roses bloom through the summer. Lilacs and lily of the valley bloom for only a few short weeks of spring, but that's enough time to transport you to that place you were when you first experienced the joy and bliss of spring fever.
The planting season is about another month or two away, but I like to start plants early indoors. And instead of spending money on peat pots (which can be expensive), I use eggshells.
Eggshell planters are free (once you buy and use the eggs). They are full of calcium and other nutrients and are completely biodegradable, so they’re good for the soil. They allow you to save money on plants when you start everything yourself from seed. Plus, it makes a great project for kids. They’ll love watching the seedlings sprout and grow from those shells.
Throughout the year, I just crack my eggs open from the top and peel away as little shell as possible. Then I rinse them and save them in a plastic baggie along with a couple of the cardboard egg trays. But you can start right away with a dozen eggs. Crack open from the top and pour the eggs out into a bowl and use them later in a giant omelet. Make sure to rinse out your eggshells and maybe boil them for three minutes to kill any bacteria, then let them dry.
Next, use a tack to poke a small hole in the bottom of the shell for drainage. Then just grab some good potting soil and a spoon and fill halfway. Plant your seeds according to the directions on the package and spoon more dirt on top. Place your new eggshell planters inside the cardboard tray the eggs came in, give them each a little water, then set the tray on a towel in front of a nice sunny window. In just a couple of weeks you’ll start to see sprouts.
By the time late May or early June arrives, your plants will be just the right size to put in the ground. Very gently crush the egg shell so the roots are exposed. No need to peel away the eggshell. Just plant the whole thing.
Saving money is good. A whole packet seeds will cost you $2.00 that could possibly yield 12 strong plants, whereas buying just ONE plant at the store might cost you $2.00. You’ll get a good return on investment in money . . . and happiness.
One of the things I appreciate about living in Madison is that we are surrounded by water. And where there is water, there are waterfowl. Since I’m a birder, I’ve been enjoying some bird-watching on some area lakes and ponds.
March is a good month to get a glimpse of migrating water birds. This month alone, I’ve spotted snow geese, redhead ducks, ring-necked ducks, and buffleheads on their trek north to their summer homes. They don’t stay long, though. One day I saw a large group of redheads enjoying a quiet pond, and the next day they were gone.
I recommend taking time this spring to get out and enjoy some birds we don’t normally get to see around here. All you need is a good pair of binoculars and a bird book so you know what you’re looking at. Even if you don’t see anything but mallards and Canada geese, you are still taking a moment to get some fresh air and enjoy nature.