The Homestead Essay
Hot and Bothered
I transplanted the second half of a bed of spring onions in my skivvies last week. This was not planned, nor should it have been at all necessary, given that it was late March. But this heat! What is with this heat?
The bed in question was in our greenhouse, and the temperature in there at 4pm was punishing, even with all the vents open. The clothes had to come off. Which is why my landlord, Joe, got more than he bargained for when he sought me out regarding a farming matter of importance: a hirsute, 230-odd pound ogre handling scallions in nothing but rubber boots and a pair of frayed gray underpants.
Worry not, dear customer; no scallions suffered a brush with the newly bare parts of my body. I'm surprisingly nimble in the garden in spite of my considerable heft; so deft are my movements among the pathways, in fact, that my partner Vanessa has taken to calling me her little garden fairy; a nickname that took some getting used to but that I have now embraced, although she is forbidden from telling my three brothers about it.
Everyone I've encountered lately has been commenting that I must be thrilled about this year's swift and balmy spring. Certainly, the garden is benefiting from this lovely start to the season. But they forget that farmers possess a special talent for seeing the dour side of every situation.
Here it is: Spring sprung too fast! As a veggie farmer, the garden is sufficiently undemanding during the winter months that I settle into a very different lifestyle. It's hermetic, for one; my partner Vanessa spends her winters away at school and my landlords head south for a month or more, and so I spend many days alone in my cabin.
The solitude begins getting to me some time in late January, and it tends to affect my social judgements. I chat up sales clerks for entirely too long, to the frustration of those behind me; I consider causing fender benders just for the delight of the interaction required.
And, at the pool in Westbank, which I sporadically visit to in a half-hearted attempt to quell the ambition of my winter paunch, I asked a fellow swimmer if he wanted to meet up for a workout now and again (this is typically seen as a no-no in fitness contexts, though it paid off; his name is Dave. He's from Alberta, and he's got a wicked butterfly).
Occasional swims aside, my winters are decidedly less physical than the rest of the year, and also less hectic.
Which is why Spring's suddenness this year has been a bit of a shock to my system. For the first two weeks of full days spent in the garden, my back protested angrily when I crawled out of bed each morning. I've been a little resentful of the lost leisure-time I was getting because of early sunsets, and I'm still getting used to the increase in social interactions now that everyone is out and about.
I've been feeling a bit guilty about my outlook, but I really do think there is something to be said for a slow transition between the seasons to give the body and mind a chance to adjust, or at least, to avoid greenhouse stripteases because of poor clothing selection. And I know Winter agrees with me. It feels like June right now, but across the lake, snow still lingers on the mountain tops, which is Spring's equivalent of a stiff back.