The Surest Sign of Spring


I totally missed the memo in my town, but they have collectively decided that Spring is here. 

No matter that it’s 39 degrees outside.  The weather is not the deciding factor.  Nor is the calendar.

Here’s what drives the edict:  The mass release of the landscaping trucks.  It’s like a well-choreographed invasion.

This week actually marks a year since we took up life in the suburbs.  And I remember last year at this time, sitting in our new home, unpacking box #48,876.  I remember, one morning, the distinct sound of lawn machinery coming from four different directions at once.  In total precision.  I looked outside and what quickly followed was my realization that *everyone* on the block has a landscaping guy army. 

Over the next few days, as I unpacked more boxes, I saw the pattern.  The armies pulled up to the homes at 9:00 sharp, every day.  They pruned.  They plucked.  They manicured.  They planted.  They mulched.  Then they disappeared into the quiet suburban wind.  Sort of like Keyser Soze with a leaf blower.

I peered from my undressed windows — more than a little freaked out.  In the city, we had a few house plants.  Some lasted longer than others by virtue of sheer sun position and luck, but we clearly weren’t ready for prime-time suburban landscaping.

So, suffice it to say we had not secured a beautification crew for our yard.  We saw and bought the house in the dead of winter, under a foot or two of snow.  And we probably should have wondered what, exactly, would emerge as the landscaping vision upon first thaw. 

Let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty.  There was a certain overgrown, tumbleweed, Wild, Wild West quality that didn’t seem to quite fit in.

Realizing our precarious footing, we scrambled to right the wrong of our yard before we were driven out of the neighborhood by a unanimous vote of the Town Council.

Then the landscaping solicitation began, as if on cue.  It was like the Town gave them a copy of our closing documents and a photo of the lawn.  They smelled blood in the water and knew it was only a matter of time before we caved in to abject peer pressure in the form of weed wackers and wood chips. 

And they were right.  Soon, we found our guy.  He was just waiting for our call — I picture him leaning up against his truck, smoking a cigar and buffing his nails while thinking of ways to set our money on fire.  

Our guy made good and quick progress.  This was rewarded with third-party endorsements in the form of a not-so-occasional comment from a neighbor about what an improvement we’d made to the property. 

{Translation:  “We were waiting for you to fix this shit up.  If you hadn’t, we’d consider reporting you to the Town for the public beating that occurs on the second Tuesday of the month, or — worse — excluding you from our block’s Christmas Eve Luminary Spectacular.”}

Alrighty then.  Bullet dodged.  We were allowed to stay.  Just in time for winter.

I’ll tell you, it was nice to have the winter off from the Landscaping Olympics.  Sure, there were epic snow blower competitions and plenty of occasions to mock our lack of de-icing salts, but that seemed like small potatoes. 

But now it’s abundantly clear to me that I made a classic rookie mistake.  I was stupid to assume, under the heavy cloak of winter, that nobody was planning their 2011 landscape design concepts over Christmas Dinner and envisioning their thematic topiaries during the fireside chats of multiple housebound snow days.

As for us, we had used our time poorly.  We were asleep at the wheel, fat and happy in our naive view that it was still winter. 

Of course, I missed the note that Opening Day was today. It must be optimal crocus primping time.  Or mulch preparation week.  Without warning, the trucks and lawn equipment besieged the neighborhood at 9:00 this morning — as I leisurely went off to pre-school drop-off.  It was like being caught with my pants down.

And there was our guy — cigar in hand, leaning against his truck with a menacing “Come to Papa” grin at the end of our driveway, basically asking for direct access to our checking account or a vein.

Spring has sprung.  Let the invasion begin.

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  1. Jessica says:

    Perhaps you should mark this day on the calendar for next year so you don’t miss it again. Don’t want those neighbors to kick you out of the neighborhood for not trimming the grass.

  2. Wow! Even with this cold weather they are still out there? Suppose they could bring the Spring weather with them while they are planting? I am tired of this snow/rain BS! 😉

  3. Jess Witkins says:

    Ugh, bad rendezvous of my gardening attempts last spring. The directions said plant pointed side up, the seeds looked like prunes! There were no points! I just sprinkled them in every which way, but I also planted them too deep, and only got 2 blooms. TWO!! Talk about lighting your money on fire.

  4. Oh no!!! Is that what those chain saw sounds were that emanated from over my fence line yesterday!! I’m late, I’m late. Hope the neighbors take pity on me!

  5. We used to have a landscaper when we moved into our home. Then, nine years later, Hubby became stay-at-home dad and landscape man. It was then that we noticed what a jig these guys have going. They start the season at the end of February, keep going until it snows, and mow grass that doesn’t need to be mowed. Not to mention the toxic chemicals they put down and surround with crime scene tape. We’ve eliminated the chemicals and mow less frequently than once a week, and guess what? Our lawn looks no worse than anyone else’s. In fact, most times it looks greener because it’s not cut so low. And I can sit in it and walk barefoot in it without fear of growing a third butt cheek or an eleventh toe.

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