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The Tentacle


March 31, 2005

Spring Has Sprung

Jason Grabill

Well, spring has sprung, or so the weather reporters tell me on the back pages of The Frederick News Post. Now, before you get the giggles, I do peruse the weather in the paper, and even read the almanac from time to time.

Hey, they are just as accurate as your favorite TV weatherman. Plus, it gives me something to look forward to.

I love spring, myself. This past week here in Frederick has been nothing short of dreary, wet, and miserable. All tolerable for me and the brood, simply because I know it's just a matter of time before we shake loose of this mess and get on with higher temperatures, bugs, birds, and the flora and fauna (look those words up, Maryland High Schoolers) that spring brings!

Yes, pretty soon, the O's will be on the radio in all their glory. I love listening to the Oriole Radio Network no matter who is announcing. Chuck Thompson will be sorely missed, of course.

Heck, when I was but a wee lad, ole Chuck's voice put me to sleep on many a spring and summer night. He was so relaxing, yet descriptive enough for me to know what was going on.

I can still recite the dang "National Bohemian" commercials they always played. Must be something subliminal going on there, no doubt. Regardless, I loved listening to the Orioles. I can't watch a ballgame on TV for the most part. But give me a radio and I'm in heaven. So, thanks Mr. Thompson, for your gift of Oriole baseball.

Yes, I love spring.

Sunday was Easter. The Easter bunny not only brought whoopee cushions to the 5 and 4 year-olds (hey, what can I say, that ole bunny has a demented sense of humor), he also brought a kite, and one of those styrofoam airplanes.

It's amazing to watch a 4 year old, dressed in her Easter finery, go running across a field full of grass, and see the kite take flight for the first time. The look of joy on her face made my day. The boy, meanwhile, was learning how to throw the airplane so it did the "loop de loop".

Spring has sprung for sure. If you've not flown a kite for some time, or have visions of Charlie Brown dancing in your head, don't sweat it. I tried it myself, (I haven't flow a kite in a loooooong time) and that's the most relaxed I've been in many a day.

It's worth going to Wallymart and picking one of those things up for a couple of bucks. If you've got kids, drag ’em away from the idiot box or the Gameboy, and send ’em outside with the kite and the airplane. You'll be amazed what return you'll get on that $5 investment.

Full disclosure time here...we don't own a single video game, game controller, Gameboy, Xbox, or anything else. Not because I'm a Luddite, mind you, but simply because I know I'd be the one addicted to the dang things. Bad enough I'm on the computer all the time.

Anyway, I think I played with the foam airplane more than my son did, since he headed inside after an hour, and I remained outdoors, tossing that plane around.

Heck, even if you don't have kids, give yourself a guilty pleasure and go pick one or the other up. You'll be amazed how much fun you'll have.

Of course, with the advent of spring, chores on the farm must take priority. Last week, I hacked down a large swatch of very thorny "living fence" that had sprouted along the banks of one of our creeks. Now, for those city folk who don't know what "living fence" is, let me explain. This could be an Urban Legend, but it's a good yarn nonetheless.

Back in the early ’40s, "living fence" was touted as the farmers’ miracle. Just plant it, and in a matter of months, you'd never have to worry about fencing again. These bushes grow nasty thorns, and cows and other livestock can't muscle their way past the buggers.

Eventually, "living fence" would pay for itself, or so the farmers were told. Well, by golly, the return on that investment has been substantial. You see, even though the livestock hate the stuff, birds love the small red berries on the plant.

Pretty soon "living fence" was living all over the damn place. The stuff is a terminator plant. If you don't keep it hacked down – and tearing it out by the root is only a temporary solution I assure you – it will eventually take over your fields.

So, ever since, farmers have been fighting a constant battle with the "living fence," – and losing. I spent three full days cutting down a section about 100 yards long and six feet wide. The best way? Cut the stuff at its base, and roll it into a large, prickly ball. Burn it in place, if possible.

Afterward, I looked like I'd gotten into a fight with razor wire, and lost, despite wearing heavy railroad work gloves, an Army field jacket, and heavy pants.

Later the wife and I dug out two drainage ditches and a springhouse crick bank. This was after the kite flying fun, but before the rains became too unbearable.

Want an eye opener? Stick your hand and arm into two feet of muddy creek water slightly above freezing and remove leaves from a clogged drainpipe. Repeat as often as needed, but no less than 10 times. See what you city folk miss out on?

I'd still be out working, except the rain has now come with full vigor, and both the wife and I decided the rest of the chores could wait.

Yes, spring has sprung, and despite the increase in work, I'm looking forward to it as I always do. I'll be listening to the O's soon enough!

Until next time, Stay Low!



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