Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Choc Box Spring Blog Hop guest - Donna Alward 'Spring Memories'

Spring Memories: Down on the Farm…

Confession: Spring is not my favourite season.

Late spring? Sure. In the late spring green things are sprouting, flowers are starting to bloom, days are longer, and there’s this feeling that summer is right around the corner.

But that happens closer to the May side of things, and spring “officially” starts on March 20th or 21st. Why don’t I like it so much? Well, it’s a bit dirty, to be honest. The snow melts, but then the ground is muddy and it smells…not so nice. Dirt tracks into the house. Even the road, when it’s dry, is a pain because it’s covered with gravel from the sand trucks going all winter. The dog tracks in with muddy feet. The trees are still gnarled and bare and the grass is brown. Sigh.

Still, I have some good memories of early spring from when I was a kid. For instance, as soon as the driveway and parking lot were clear at school, it marked the beginning of skipping season. Either singles ropes or doubles, and things really got fun when we had ropes of the same length and could get Double Dutch going. I spent a lot of noon hours skipping during elementary school.

It was also a time of year where I could earn some money. I grew up on an apple farm, and during March my dad did all the winter pruning. In the mature orchards, that meant a lot of branches on the ground, branches that had to be picked up. I spent spring Saturdays picking brush – piling it precisely in the middle of the rows between the trees, so my dad could come along after with the bush hog and grind it up. It was back breaking work, and sometimes there was still snow on the ground so feet and hands got cold and wet. But the money was worth it!

Once pruning was over, it was time to look at fertilizing. By the time I was eight, I was driving the smaller tractor we owned. My dad and our hired hand would fill buckets with fertilizer and spread it around the trees by hand while I drove the tractor with the wagon behind it. If there was a really soft spot, my dad would hop on the tractor and get me around the corner to the next row. I was so short that to push in the brake and clutch, I had to stand up off the seat. But driving the tractor was really cool and I earned some money doing that, too.

By the time the fertilizer was spread, it got more fun. My dad was the local “dealer” for fruit trees in our area, and he took orders over the winter and got the trees in May. The trees needed to be kept somewhere moist, so we also got a few loads of sawdust to keep them in. My job was to go out and water them with the garden hose until “Pick Up Day”. I knew where different varieties were, so when Pick Up Day arrived, I was out in the big metal building that was our barn, helping bundle trees together, putting a little sawdust in the empty fertilizer bags to keep the roots wet for when people took them home. I loved Pick Up Day!

It always seemed like once the trees were gone, spring was over and the real summer work began.

Donna’s latest book is THE HOUSE ON BLACKBERRY HILL, out on April 29th from St. Martin’s Press. [Note from Kate: it's a fabulous read and has the most brilliant ghost story in the middle of it - I read it at the weekend and I'm not just saying it because she's my friend. It's a great book.]  You can find her at her site at www.donnaalward.com... Meanwhile she’s probably writing her next book or outside pruning and fertilizing her own apple trees. Don’t forget to enter the Chocolate Box Blog Hop contest for a great prize, including one of Donna’s latest books.

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1 comment:

barbara wallace said...

Spring for us meant spring cleaning. My mom was huge in stripping the house and cleaning everything. I think that's why we looked forward to summer so much - by then we could kick back and relax! Sounds like you were on the opposite schedule.