Monday, April 11, 2011

Beginnings of spring

Saturday, Scott and I attended a Scottish Country Dance workshop at Hillsdale College, way out in Hillsdale, Michigan. It was warm enough for me to wear my Crepe dress, with knee-high socks and a light coat. Unfortunately, due to traffic delays, we were unable to take photos of the dress at the college as we were hoping. The dance workshop went well, though. A sizable group of raw beginners attended, and our friends taught them both the basics and some trickier dances on the Ann Arbor ball program. Everyone seemed to have a good time, and Scott had the novel experience of being looked at as an experienced dancer for the first time.

Sunday was much warmer -- a 50ºF high on Saturday, 43ºF low that night, the 82ºF on Sunday. Being used to the temperatures in the 30's and 40's, low 80's felt sweltering; especially in our living room, where the air was stagnant. We went to the hardware store and bought cedar fence pickets to make raised beds as instructed by Alaskan wood wonder woman Ana White. Well, we didn't use her exact plans, but the use of fence pickets was a stroke of genius. This way, we got rot-resistant cedar, no worries about toxic chemicals from pressure treated lumber, and saved ourselves hundreds of dollars over what we would have spent on the boards.

New Cedar Bed

We packed forty 6' pickets and some garden stakes in my car, then went to lunch before heading home and constructing the first planter. For lunch, we decided to try a local restaurant that we had never been to before. We want to make checking out these local places a new tradition, just like our Wednesday night cocktails has worked out to be. It was the same day when we decided to do them, but we hadn't tried any new places until yesterday. We stopped at a place on Michigan Avenue called iBurger, which turned out to be much nicer than I expected when I saw the name. The patties were organic, halal beef. My burger was topped with beef bacon (a first for me), BBQ sauce, homemade fried onions, an heirloom tomato slice, shredded lettuce and a specially made bun. The fries were clearly homemade as well and tasty enough not to need ketchup or malt vinegar. Super tasty and huge. Neither of us could finish our meals.

Once we returned home, Scott built the first raised bed, above, which we placed inside the veggie garden enclosure with the four he built last year. This one will be a good spot for a number of additional things I want to plant. The rest of the boards will make a bed that stretches from the cherry tree to the raspberry bush in an L shape. A lower tier will encompass the two existing plants and the center will be further raised for a tiered strawberry bed. Scott is still working out the exact design of this bed for fabrication. I am excited about this particular part of our project not only for the strawberries, but also because while working it out, we hit on some design ideas for our back yard. Neither of us is particularly interested in having a large lawn, but I wasn't sure what to do with it, especially with the offset placement of the cherry tree and the raspberry bush. Now I have a starting point. We are already planning to use this bed to create a "room" area for a table. Now the next challenge is dealing with the brush/compost pile and the area overshadowed by our huge maple.

The other thing that I am excited about, garden wise, is what I saw as I raked the dead leaves and stems from our front garden bed.

Hostas Sprouting

There are hostas peeking their heads out of the ground.

Day Lilies Sprouting

Day lilies are sprouting as well.

Crocuses are blooming in out neighbor's yard. Spring is finally arriving, after what seems like ages. I am used to getting crocuses around my birthday, in January, after all. It's about time.

And in case you're wondering, the temperature has been steadily dropping since yesterday's high. It looks like it will bottom out around 41ºF tonight, then up into the 50's tomorrow. We've had our windows open ever since we got home yesterday afternoon.

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