Getting Ready

The rays of the sun coerce these early risers to push through the thatch and announce the new season

Busting out1-web

Mother Nature has been getting ready for Spring since last Fall, when she put most plants to sleep for the winter.  My photos this year show a couple of early risers.  Such a welcome sight for we greenery starved northerners.

I got to thinking about ‘getting ready’ as I watched many on our street, out in their yards, tending to those spring things like removing old leaves from last fall, dethatching their lawns, and preparing flower and vegetable beds for new plants.  On top of that there’s lots of garage cleaning and organising going on.  I daresay, this year, there is a little more intensity in getting ready for warm weather activities and growth than is normal for May, given how we’ve been cooped up in our homes.

The birds in the area are getting ready as well, with the busyness of nest building getting their full attention.  I’ve seen some wonderful cameo images of the birds at work, but I never have my camera ready and those moments with small song birds are fleeting.  I have to do better with my preparation and readiness.

When I was raking the old thatch from our lawn the other day, I thought about how my father dealt with this time of year.  I think, for maybe the first time, I understand why he was so excited about the arrival of the month of May each year.  I am pretty sure he was preplanning his activities for many weeks before the snow finally left for good.  Dad was a terrific gardener, both in flowers and vegetable gardening.  We lived in Regina.  It was the late 1940’s and gardeners had to start their annual plants from seed.  The only place to buy seeds locally was in the hardware store, but they arrived there too late for what Dad wanted to do with his garden.

His ‘making ready’ would start in January when the McKenzie Seed Catalogue arrived in the mail.  I would watch Dad in his comfy chair in the living-room, one evening after the other, poring over the catalogue, pencil in hand, marking the seeds he was interested in, then making his final decision and writing his selection on the order form.  He had to plan his garden for both the house in Regina and our cottage at Katepwa in the Qu’Appelle Valley.  He wanted the seeds no later than early March so he could get them started in his south facing greenhouse that was attached to the garage.  Those seed packages would come in the mail.  Once they were started and the frosts deteriorated to be minor and few, he would move the seedlings out to the glass‑covered cold frames that were sloped up to the garage.  These were large boxes on the ground with glassed, hinged covers that I wasn’t allowed to open because they were so heavy.  If they were dropped, the glass on top would shatter.  My job was to help carry out the seedlings from the greenhouse to Dad who set them up in the cold frames.  On the Victoria Day weekend the plants would go from the cold frames to the garden or be loaded into the ’38 Chev to be taken to our cottage at Katepwa for planting.  Dad was always happy then—Spring time on the prairies.

I have a distinct memory of Dad’s raspberry patches and the job of setting up the raspberry canes for winter and then getting them ready to produce fruit in the Spring.  Once I was old enough, which was four years, I would work with Dad to winterise the raspberry canes in late October.  Once the old wood was pruned from the cane, Dad would pull it over to the ground and I would stand on the end of the grounded canes while he shovelled dirt over them.  Once they were adequately covered and held to the ground, we would move on to the next.  We did the canes at both our house and the cottage.  I also remember, when that job was done, I’d had enough of gardening for the season.  In May, we freed the canes and they popped up ready to grow for the year.  By mid-July we had a plentiful supply of raspberries for our breakfasts.  Even today, when I have raspberries on my cereal, I’m transported back to those mornings with Mom and Dad at the cottage when we would pick fresh raspberries from the large patch he had planted many years before.  No raspberries we buy in the grocery stores these days, from goodness-knows-where, can match the sweetness and taste of those fresh berries from our garden.

Be Nice rock-web


Recently, two young girls walked down our street delivering
‘feel good’ rocks to everyone.  They were Sadie and Mataya and here is our rock.

What a nice thing to do, especially in these times.  My hat is off to them and to their parents for supporting their girls in whatever way they do.

All photos are Copyright © Jack Blair Photographer