By Sue Carr
It has been a long, cold, polar vortex of a winter here in Pittsburgh. So needless to say, when the weather warmed up and the clouds parted to reveal the long-reclusive sun over the past two weekends, it was almost like a scene from Night of the Living Dead as pale, sun-starved neighbors reared their heads after almost six months of total hibernation to face the glorious warmth of spring.
Naturally, I, too, emerged from my warm, household cocoon to repair the ravaging effects of winter on our little corner of the Earth. Even though our yard isn’t terribly large, it never ceases to amaze me how much work it takes to get it back up to par after months of snow and frost and dead, blowing leaves. I wheeled no fewer than eight wheelbarrows of leaves and debris to the back corner of our lot (much to our neighbors’ chagrin, I don’t doubt), in an effort to clear out all of my beds and ready them for our summer plantings.
Each year, we try to diversify our outdoor space with new and more interesting flora. When we moved into our house seven years ago, we had only a couple trees in our yard, one of which was half dead and had to be removed. We remedied that problem by taking advantage of the Arbor Day Foundation’s regular offers of free saplings for a $10 donation. Several times, we sent donations. Weeks later, we would receive a package in the mail containing small twigs with roots, not longer than about eight inches each and looking in no way, shape, or form like actual trees. With blind faith, we would follow the instructions for fostering these saplings into the majestic trees they promised to be.
Surprisingly, it worked—at least for some of them. I can’t claim that every sapling we’ve received is now growing strong and tall in our yard, but thanks to those nominal donations, we now have five new trees in our yard that actually look like trees, and at least as many other saplings that continue to grow each year. During my great yard cleanout of the past two weekends, I surveyed our trees and found that every single one of them is budding out, ready to grow stronger and more mighty through another spring and summer season. Thus, our donations to an organization whose goal it is to green the Earth on a large scale have increased the green on our own little plot of land, too.
We’re also greening things up inside the house. Since the Pittsburgh climate isn’t generally conducive to outdoor plantings prior to about Mother’s Day (at least, that was always my mother’s rule of thumb), we decided to get the party started a little early this year by starting some plants in our living room. Already we have a dozen pumpkin plants ready to go into the ground, along with a half-dozen tomato plants, four bell pepper plants, and a good number of flowers. They make it feel like springtime even on the days when the weather doesn’t exactly cooperate.
To add one more springtime surprise to our little corner of the earth, we’ve found that a new family has taken up residence on our deck. The kids love checking in on mama robin every day through our kitchen window—a daily reminder of the rebirth happening all around us.
I hope spring is blooming warm and bright where you are, and that you take advantage of the warmth and sunshine to bring some more green to your little corner of the Earth!
Sue Nelko Carr is a freelance writer, editor, blogger and a full-time mother, trying to live a greener life in Pittsburgh, PA.