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Spring Home Projects in Northern New England
As I sit on a plane in route from Chicago to Boston this evening, I realize I have been staring out into the dark abyss contemplating the arrival of spring. Spring is a time of anticipation and renewed life. A time when the snow finally abates and the Robins return to rebuild their nests. And a time when Tulips and Daffodils emerge from the ground and bloom, if ever so briefly. It is also a time for the voracious Black Fly that we northern dwellers know only too well. For me, however, it is a time to shift into a higher gear; there are outdoor projects that have accumulated over the winter months and there is traditional spring tasks that every homeowner is compelled to do.
There are two main questions I debate as I compile my spring "To-Do" list: What to do and when to do it?
As always with a non-vinyl sided house, there is painting. Over the years, I have come to the conclusion it is best to paint a portion of the house each year; one year the clapboards, another year the trim, and maybe in the third year the shutters. I am sure the professional painter would beg to differ with my advice, but hey, not all of us can justify the professional painter every 3-5 years, nor can we dedicate an entire week or two of our spring painting the whole house. I have found it best to do the spring painting as soon as the whether gets above 50 degrees. Any sooner, it is too cold for the paint. Any later, and one has to contend with the other flying insect, the hornet.
Another important job, but not so large in effort, is preparing the lawn for the spring rains. First there is the raking. Then there is the application of the first stage of the four-stage fertilizer process, you know, the one that halts the Crab grass in July and August. Usually every other year there is the additional task of spreading the pest control to prevent grubs and moles. Based on product recommendations and when I actually have time, I do these tasks in mid May.
For those of us with bountiful winter snowfalls, many of us have the unique task of fixing or replacing our mailboxes for hopefully the last time, or at least for the next 12 months. This is particularly an aggravating task as we spend much of the time doing it, cussing under our breath the snow plow operator that we know had pleasure wiping out our mailbox.
Then there is the garden. I am not sure why I still bother. Maybe it is due to a memory of my youth, when I spent two summers working on a farm. It may also be some innate desire to see something grow from nothing, that I had a part in. I think it is the latter, but regardless, every April I go out and till, fertilizer and lime the soil, while I sacrifice my body to the Black flies. By May I begin to plant the Peas, Carrots and Onions. By June I plant the Tomatoes, Peppers and Squash. And by July, I am at war with the local Wood Chuck.
Finally, there is the changing of the machine guards; storing the snow blower away and preparing the lawn mower, or in my case lawn mowers. I have the sit-down one for the main course, and a push one for the dessert. As my father-in-law always insists, sharpen the blades before the start of the cutting season and then a couple of more times throughout the summer. Well, being non-retired, I am satisfied sharpening them once before the cutting season begins and I have yet to see any ill side effects.
I see the lights of Boston approaching in the distance. My flight is almost over; however my spring list is nearly complete. I am sure I have missed a few items, but my wife will surely remind me. I look forward to the warmth of spring, but as I look down at my list, I think, I'll just sit back and savor the final weeks of winter.
Mark J. Donovan
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