Go plant some bulbs

I planted my bulbs yesterday. Luckily I snatched up one of the last few sunny, tolerably cool days left this fall. In other words, perfect bulb-planting weather. I do it every year, and now that the kids are old enough to help me, it only takes an hour or so to plant a few hundred bulbs. Yeah, the soft Midwestern soil helps, too. You can practically dig a hole with a plastic spoon around here.

When I plant my bulbs, I am usually a little sad about wintertime. Winter is hard to look forward to, especially since it lasts for six months here. Planting bulbs is not my last chance to be outside – no, not with three kids. Kids need fresh air and exercise all year, so I find myself outside, at the park, building snowmen, having snowball fights, all winter long. No it’s no longer a last chance, but it is the last time until spring that I spend time outside because I want to.

Planting bulbs is a study in patience. The cold, leaf-covered ground looks like it would rather be left alone. Yesterday was sunny, but it could have just as easily been overcast, even rainy. I still would have been out there, planting. The bulbs themselves are ugly, and confusing – I can never quite tell which side should point up. Once I plant them, and replace the soil, everything looks the same as before I began. Afterward, no one would ever guess that I’d just planted 300 bulbs in the yard.

Then I’m left with a wait. Around here, the earliest bulbs don’t come up until April. That is five long, cold, dark months. All I have to tide myself over is a secret. A new life is overwintering in the snow-covered soil. Chances are I’ll forget all about those bulbs come December. By the time February rolls around it feels like the world will forever be gray. At least around here, winter kind of kills hope.

Sometime around the end of March, I usually find myself drawn outside almost against my will. By March, 30 degrees feels warm, and I can shed my down coat, hat, and boots and have a look around. Usually the kids notice the first green shoots before I do. But there they are, poking up from the muddy garden. It’s awesome.