Sun was shining into the kitchen when I stepped in to make my breakfast. My heart lifted. After so many dreary, cold winter days, I felt more than ready to enjoy spring. My instant plan for the day was to change the bedding, wash a load of laundry and then go outside to tidy the yard by picking up broken branches.
Spring days are unreliable. By the time I had finished stripping the bed and starting the laundry, it had clouded over again. Disappointed, I bundled up to go outside anyway. It didn’t take long for me to appreciate my jacket and scarf after stepping out of the house. Although the thermometer said it was a pleasant forty degrees, wind blowing over snowbanks in the fields around the house picked up a tremendous amount of chilly dampness.
Trying to decide where to start my clean-up, I glanced around the bleak, winter-ravaged yard. Melted snow puddled here and there on the gravel driveway. None of the puddles were very large, though. The natural, gentle slope of the yard made the water slowly trickle downhill toward the river south of my house. Water from the spring runoff already filled the normally trickling, Little Eau Pleine River to a raging current. The gushing, rushing torrent of water could easily be heard from my back door.
Sunshine suddenly swept from one end of my yard to the other end. I looked up at the doughy, gray clouds and saw patches of blue sky between them. Just as quickly as the sun had appeared, it disappeared again. It reminded me of a day in my childhood when I had stood for a long time on the road in front of the farm watching clouds. That day was a windy spring day, too. I had noticed with fascination that the shadows of clouds raced down our country road. Oddly, I could watch their movement without looking up.
That spring, our farmyard had been extremely wet. We’d had a snowy winter, so there were huge piles of snow, melting quickly. The runoff from the snow formed large puddles on the driveway. Cars and farm machinery driving through the puddles made muddy ruts. Mom hated the mud because we tracked it into the house. Being nine-years-old, I enjoyed playing in squishy dirt.
The day I watched the clouds was the day I discovered an entirely new and enjoyable way to play in mud puddles. I saw Daddy come out of the shed with a shovel in his hand. I watched as he quickly dug a trench from the puddles towards the lawn. Water from the puddles surged into the trench and disappeared into the winter-browned grass. By the end of the afternoon, the driveway no longer had puddles, although the snow continued to melt.
The memory made me smile. What had looked to me like Daddy playing in the mud, was really a sensible way to dry out the driveway.
As I worked in my yard that afternoon, I stumbled over hillocks and dips that make up my lawn. I knew it would eventually level off once the frost came out of the soil. “Besides,” I reminded myself, “My lawn is a farmyard lawn, not a pampered, weed-free, manicured, citified, highbred. I’m happy with that. It’s a place where the grandchildren can run, play Frisbee and have races.”
Looking around at the lawn, I was amazed that it looked as good as it did. Several years ago I decided to get rid of the ancient septic system that had come with the house. Before I could put in a mound system, a perc test to see if the soil in my yard had good drainage was required. I had pictured some men coming and digging a few small holes. The reality was that they showed up with a backhoe and dug several huge holes! After they were finished, the backhoe operator pushed some of the dirt back into a few of the pits, but I thought my yard would never be the same again.
A mound was installed behind one of the sheds and somehow the gouged, wounded earth slowly leveled off and grass began to grow there once again. Happily, I live where water easily drains away.