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Nature Calling


T.S. Elliot may have deemed April to be “the cruelest month,” but I suspect it was only because, having suffered through February and March, he finally succumbed to a nervous breakdown on April 1. And he probably didn’t have dogs tracking in mud.
April is for pansies. February and March are brutal, joyless mud-fests of unending depression, infestation and muck.
This is the only time of year that those nice, small city apartments, with their access to coffee houses and cute boutiques, and slick suburbia, with its paved roads and driveways, trim lawns and convenient sidewalks, look vastly more comfortable than nature beating down my door and spreading itself all over the tile in the foyer.
Every other month we are surrounded with nature’s beauty. We can look out our window any day and see the breathtaking pageantry of the mountains, whether it’s the pink mists of Eastern Redbud or the ice storms that turn the forest into a store full of Waterford Crystal. But in February and March, nature looks back and it wants IN.
Oh, we have our mud rooms and our “matting” strategies. We plug up holes, lay out traps and insulate; still nature seeps through the cracks and sneaks in when we open the door. It taps us on the shoulder while we sit in our S.A.D. stupor and spits in our eye.
Every year I start the season with the “no shoes in the house” policy, which usually results in a pile of shoes and muddy socks by the door and the accompanying smell to greet visitors. Then I try to redirect entry to the back door, resulting in a second pile of shoes because I’ve now lost my voice screaming about the first pile of shoes and trying to head off residents attempting to access the house by their usual route. Pretty soon the arrival of anybody sends me in a frenzy of issuing orders and blocking access until, by the third day, I crumple in exhaustion and just let the filth wash over me.
Naturally, the dogs account for much of the muck. The terriers aren’t so bad because they can be scrubbed down pretty quickly. But bathing an Australian Shepherd is a major production. Bathing four Australian Shepherds – well, it’s just easier to let the mud dry and flake off. Since I’m vacuuming several times a day anyhow, it’s just quicker.
As soul-sucking as this time of year is for us, our Jack Russell Terriers, bred to hunt rodents, are in their glory. Every day a new buffet enters the ground floor, field mice who don’t like it outside any more than we do. When Gaspode (named after Gaspode, The Wonder Dog) starts his vertical jumping, we know dinner is served. We simply open the basement door for him, listen to the carnage of growls, barks, and plaintive squeaking and then open the door to let in one self-satisfied terrier. If we’re lucky, he’ll wait until he’s outside to bring it back up. If we’re lucky.
It’s a good thing we have the terriers for rodent control because our cats have declared themselves “off” during late winter. Our tabby Whiskers hasn’t left her spot on my bed since Valentine’s Day. I check for a pulse every now and then, which seems to annoy her. She has no interest in the birds fluttering within her vision outside the window nor the open front door ten feet away. During February and March she is no longer a cat; she is a throw pillow.
And then there are the tease days – one or two days during these months when the sun shines and the temperature creeps into the 70s. People peek out of their houses. Can it be? Is it spring?
Fools! This is nothing more than nature’s ploy to get you to open your doors and windows and let it in. Because tomorrow it’s going to be 35 degrees out with sleet.
I’ve always felt that during this time of year is when someone should organize some sort of major holiday or festival to cheer everyone up; give us something to look forward to. Only everyone is too tired and depressed to do it. Surely somewhere there is a group of people jacked up on Diet Dr. Pepper or coffee or crack who can organize this for the rest of us. Then maybe I’d have the impetus to mop the floor for the third time today.

Share  Posted by Jeanne Jackson at 7:32 AM | Permalink

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