May Long Weekend

Just like the saying goes not to wear white after labour day, locally there seems to be a start line for the summer season: May long weekend.

As of posting this I’ve wrapped up my work week and I am planning how to spend the first official three day weekend of the vague, loosely-defined stretch of relative seasonal warmth that begins… um… now.

Planting the Garden

As evidenced by the mid-week snow storm we experienced on Tuesday night I was right to put off planting my seeds until, as my grandmother advised me, the May long weekend. Now I’ve got a small collection of packets containing seeds for lettuce, carrots, beets, radishes, beans, peas, and other eclectic veggies that caught my eye… and they are going in the ground before I go back to work.

Priming the Yard

While I’ve casually poked away at this for the last month because the weather has been cooperative, it’s time to get serious and get up to my elbows in soil and grass clippings. Everything needs either a trim, rake, edging, turning, tossing, or pruning, and this weekend is prime time to tackle that chore before the real growth season kicks in and I can’t keep up. That new lawnmower is going to get broken in by the end of the three-day break.

Summer Training

The trails are bare and the weather is perfect. While I may not be tuning up for any particular races, for the last dozen years spring and the May long weekend has always meant that it was time to get serious about summer running training. I would like to run a half marathon this summer, even if it is just a quiet, lonely run tracked by nothing other than my watch. That said, my whole crew is vaccinated and the restrictions start to lift next week so something more social is probably on the agenda somewhere.

Family Campfire

I’ve already been excitedly posting about my early dabbling with the backyard campfire, and have posted a couple learned lessons from the action-so-far. That said, the summer plan was to crank up the heat (literally) on my outdoor culinary efforts and May long weekend is looking to be a beautiful, sunshiny opportunity to spark up some coals, break out the cast iron and roast up some meals outside.

Local Adventure

And finally, while we still can’t go too far I plan on taking the dog and the family for a good local hike to explore some river valley trails or the winding paths through the local creek ravine. The news was already warning folks to heed crowds in popular parks and recreational areas around town and outside the city, but my years on the trails have earned me some secret knowledge about interesting places to check out that will likely be less crowded.

Backyard: Clean-Up

In recognition of yet-another-local-lockdown due to the ongoing pandemic, I'm doing a week of feature blog posts about living in the backyard. From May 10th through 16th, my posts will be themed around life outdoors but as close to home as possible, a few steps out the back door.

It’s always striking to me that we live in a deeply seasonal place.

I’m sure that other parts of the planet go through their own share of seasonal variation, but living in one of the more northern capital cities on the Earth also makes places us in a group where vast differences exist between the heart of winter and the edges of summer.

Today I sit in my backyard in spring and enjoy a mild temperature, barefoot kinda day.

Four months ago I hardly dared open the door to the brutal cold.

Four months from now I’ll be picking fruit and veg from trees that at the moment seem barely alive and from soil that is little more than a crusty brown patch in the corner of my backyard.

I’ve been busy spring cleaning for the last couple weeks.

Grass to be raked. Leftover leaves that didn’t get sorted out before the snow last fall were starting to rot on the lawn. Flowerpots are full of crusty dried remains of last year’s greenery. Weeds are emerging and poking through the lawn and garden beds. Winter dust and the bits of residue from the long-melted snow needs to be wiped down. And that’s not even to mention the various bits of fence, deck or furniture that need a touch of paint or a tightened screw.

My lawnmower died as well, and neither wanting to see it dropped into the landfill nor having the patience or skill to repair it myself I hunted down a guy online who takes them as donations, fixes them up, and gives them a new life. But of course that meant a big clean-up of the shed, and rearranging all the various things I’d stored in there over winter, all to extract a broken tool and roll it out to the curb.

Spring cleaning is a real thing here, not because it’s a good time to get it done but simply because the season ticks over and that it needs done becomes obvious.

The trees are budding with their baby leaves and blossoms.

The grass is turning from a pale yellowish-brown to a vibrant green.

The bees are buzzing through the air and investigating the spring-waking world.

A few weeks from now it will all be just another summer, but for the moment spring is in clean-up mode, as am I, and the passing of winter feels like a barefoot kinda day in the backyard.