Indoors or out, no one relaxes
In March, that month of wind and taxes,
The wind will presently disappear,
The taxes last us all the year.
~Ogden Nash (1902–1971), “Thar She Blows”
[Tax Day used to be on March 15th from 1918 through 1954, during which period Nash wrote the poem.]
Lawns―As warm-season turf begins to green up in your area, it’s time to think about liming your grass. If your soil is acid, you need to do this every couple of years. The best way to tell if you need lime is with a soil test, which will let you know exactly how much to apply. But if you’re not able to get your soil tested, use the general guideline of 15 to 20 pounds of lime per 100 square feet of lawn area. Pelletized lime is less messy and easier to apply than the white-powdered kind.
Azaleas―As this Southern classic comes into bloom, be sure to mark the color of each plant if you haven’t planted them by color. For maximum impact, group azaleas in masses of one color or in layers of color. It is okay to move them while they are blooming. But if you wait until they finish, they can be rearranged, pruned, and shaped for a better show next year.
March began in the darkness with freezing rain. Having postponed going to Lowe’s to buy sub-flooring on Monday because of very high winds I told Terry the handyman to come later in the morning. By the time he came at eleven thirty, the temperature was above freezing and the rain had stopped temporarily. The cats had all worn themselves out playing and were all nested somewhere, sleeping. This meant I could help wrangle in the 4 x 8 sheets and not just stand by guarding the door against breakouts by adventurous felines.
After that was done Terry was going home to babysit a grandson and I went over to the vet’s office to get Moe’s prescription renewal. The rain picked up again and it was the kind of dark damp day that puts the cats into hibernation mode. I didn’t really feel the urge to nap but I had been moving things around all morning to make room for the sub-flooring and hadn’t eaten, so I made some pasta. Even an input of carbohydrate didn’t make me nap prone but I wasn’t up for more physical labor either. Writing makes the time fly and since there was no change in the sky before I knew it it was dinner time, for the cats at least. I could hear the rain through the window, heavier than earlier in the day, so I knew it was going to be a Friday night of YouTube and popcorn. The mailman had said he was anticipating a week of it and I was not happy to hear it.
I’ve been trying to get all the wood from the branches that crashed in the ice storm around to the back yard and into a proper woodpile for months but either cold, wind, rain, snow, more ice or any combination of the same has made it a slow process. March is supposed to be the spring cleaning month. All that weather that kept me indoors has also taken i’s toll on the house exterior and the yard. Virtually every checklist I looked at for March chores started with “Clean the gutters.” The back gutter has been threatening to fall off for years and the front gutter on one side is now crushed and bent from the tree fall.
So I decided on my own version of the March spring cleaning checklist. 1. Clean the gutters – Don’t bother. They need to be pulled down and replaced. Be sure to put up gutter guards and never have to muck them out again. Chore dealt with. 2. Clean the AC unit – No need, haven’t got AC. 3. Clean the house exterior – One of few houses on the street not to have siding to pressure wash, instead this year I must scrape, prime and paint the whole exterior. There is also a lot of rotten window trim to replace and a couple of siding boards. This is no chore for March, sun and warmth for several days in a row are needed. 4. Inspect the roof – Inspect, why bother? I need a new roof and again, it’s not a March job. 5. While checking the roof, check the chimney – I had the chimney exterior seen to last summer. Inside it is clean and tidy because I couldn’t use it. Camera inspection revealed it needs a new liner, very expensive. Thankfully I have no driveway to check for cracks and fix, no patio to repair or deck or porch to clean and seal. The sidewalk is cracked but no one has complained so it is very far down on the list.
Inside spring cleaning usually involves getting the rugs and carpets cleaned, cleaning upholstered furniture and taking down the curtains and getting them cleaned and washing the windows inside and out. I am supposed to have double hung windows but they have been painted over so many times the spiders know they are safe in their corners. The outside will again have to wait for better weather. I only have one rug and two windows curtained so i will probably get that item ticked off on the checklist. And with all the cats I only have two upholstered pieces so there is really no chore. One is a chair which always has covers on it and the other is a bench which needs to be re-upholstered. Tony used it as a scratching post before he was properly trained in using the cat furniture.
Fortunately there are lots of interesting days in March to serve as antidote to cleaning and maintenance. The vernal equinox or first day of spring is one I really look forward to. Easter, St Patrick’s Day, the Hindu festival of Holi and Mardi Gras all add color and celebration to the month. March also is the month of International Women’s Day and International Wildlife Day, both of which I am happy to celebrate.
While the bright radiant sun in centre glows,
The earth in annual motion round it goes;
At the same time on its own axis reels,
And gives us change of seasons as it wheels.
–James Russell Lowell (1819–91)