Ready for spring, not winter

I am in a terrible pickle. It’s past the middle of November but in my head it feels like May.

I am in a terrible pickle. It’s past the middle of November but in my head it feels like May.

This is not a healthy way for a Canadian to head into winter. Normally by the time November rolls around I am sick to death of all the yard work. I can’t help feeling a bit relieved when the snow finally comes along and tosses a blanket over the whole sorry mess.

Not that I’ll usually admit it. Oh no, that wouldn’t do at all. Instead I’ll act all sad to see summer come to an end. I’ll make noises about missing the feel of dirt in my hands and bugs on my neck, but deep down I’m insanely grateful for the reprieve. I talk a big talk about how wonderful it must be to live in a place where you can garden all year around, but to be honest, I have my doubts. If I could work outside all year around who knows what kind of mess I would make of our yard. I shudder to think of it. So does my husband.

Out of the 92 outdoor projects I started back in May, I failed to complete approximately 92 of them. It wasn’t my fault. At least, it wasn’t completely my fault. Some projects were finished, but had to be revised because of other developments. Others were done, deemed an eyesore or unworkable and promptly abandoned or dismantled.

Towards the end of September I had a new plan, a new garden spot and a new pile of dirt. Things we’re finally coming together when we hit some turbulence. One minute the leaves were green, the sky was blue and the dandelions were enjoying a second bloom and the next it was snowing.

October is usually a gorgeous month in the Peace country so I was confident that fall would soon snatch the season back from winter.

I stood at the window and impatiently waited. When it not only continued to stay cold but snowed another foot, I made some hot chocolate and got out the grid paper and pencils.

To pass the time I mapped out my new garden on paper while outside the leaves went from green to a flash frozen brown. As October faded into November it became painfully clear that fall had jumped fence and wasn’t coming back. What else could I do? I started filling out seed and plant orders. You’d be surprised how early you can order garden seeds and plants.

Last week I went out to the greenhouse and organized all the plant trays.

Once that was finished I figured I might as well get a couple bags of plant starting mix. You know, just to be ready when spring came. I went to three department stores before I finally managed to find two bags of potting soil hiding behind a pile of Christmas trees. I was so excited I let out a squeal of joy. The next thing I knew I was practically trampled to death by a herd of young mothers shouting “Zhu Zhu! Zhu Zhu!”

I was terrified. I held up my hands to show I came in peace but it was no use. They just kept coming closer, all the while chanting, “Zhu Zhu!”

Clearly there was only one sane explanation. They were space aliens and I was going to die. Hoping to distract them long enough to get away I pointed to the other end of the store and enthusiastically shouted, “Earth leader!”

The young man pushing a cart full of ornaments out of the warehouse frowned at me. I felt bad about sacrificing him, but he was young and looked like he could run fast if properly motivated. Then one of the aliens spoke and this is what she said: “Earth leader? Are you crazy? I thought you must have found some Zhu Zhu Pets back there.”

Apparently Zhu Zhu Pets are robotic hamsters and this year’s must-have toy. The mothers were not amused when I showed them my two bags of soil.

So now I have my garden map, my seeds and my soil, and I am soured on Christmas shopping. All I can think about is spring and my new garden spot.

No doubt about it, this is going to be a long winter. Maybe a robotic hamster would help to pass the time.

Shannon McKinnon is a humour columnist from the Peace River country. You can reach her at

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