With the return of several days of above-freezing temperatures here, the Flint Hills have at least temporarily morphed from deep snow back to brown grass, and I was enticed outside yesterday afternoon by Mrs. ProfessorRoush to participate in what she envisioned as a nice brisk walk in the sunshine.
Unfortunately, Mrs. ProfessorRoush underestimated my determination to avoid useless cardiovascular exercise and she found herself accompanying me on a few brief gardening chores on the thin-muck-on-frozen-ground that currently serves as the prairie surface. I pulled the Christmas tree down onto the burn pile, changed the memory card in my garden camera, and dragged Mrs. ProfessorRoush to the pond, where we proceeded to relocate a few bluebird boxes to locations that I hope will entice bluebirds more than the wrens that occupied them last year. Mrs. ProfessorRoush was a great companion, providing a running commentary of the beauty of the frozen pond while picking her way gingerly through the slop, and thus preventing me from feeling any sense of loneliness in the quiet and peaceful surroundings.
As is often the case when a puttering gardener is trying to take advantage of a warm day, there were numerous other interlopers besides the lovely Mrs. ProfessorRoush who demanded my time and attention. Near the pond, we found ourselves being chased down by the donkeys, Ding and Dong, who both seemed intensely interested in the bluebird boxes and who provided close supervision of the move and their advice and final approval of the new locations. Once or twice, they even had to be swatted away from breathing down the back of my neck while I tightened the screws holding the boxes to the fence posts. Warm, moist, donkey breath around my ears makes me a little nervous, especially since Ding likes to bite the fingers that give him treats. I didn't need any Mike Tyson-style ear-mangling events to provide stain the remaining snow.
Soon, I'm sure, Spring will arrive, providing succulent grass to occupy the donkeys and a lack of novelty to outside excursions, and I'll be forced back into solitary gardening, puttering alone with my hands in the dirt. It's a dirty, lonely chore, but one that I'll be happy to tackle once again.