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I think it’s safe to say – although I wont say it too loud - that the winter of 2008-2009 has finally petered out, finished what it came to do, it’s come to an end, it’s history - at least I think it’s done, I believe it’s come to an end, I suspect it’s over. You can never be too sure of such things in Maine. Around here, a season like winter doesn’t like being termed ‘done’ and it certainly doesn’t like being predictable. You might put away all your snow shovels and snow shoes and snowmobiles and ice augers and all the rest of it and then wake up some morning in May to a yard full of winter weather.
Oh, I know it’s unlikely but it could happen and deep down we all know it could happen.
If I had the time I’d go back and lookup those almanacs that came out last fall and see how close they came to predicting what this recent winter was supposed to be. By this time most of us have either misplaced our almanacs or thrown them out in despair and we can’t quite remember if they said it would be seasonably cold with lots of snow or unseasonably cold with lots of snow. No matter what they said we knew without their saying it that the winter weather would be cold and we’d have lots of snow – which, of course, we did. So I guess they were right.
The best way to tell that winter has probably run its course is when you start seeing ads on television for lawn treatments. I saw one ad recently that shows two neighbors: one has a beautiful, lush, green lawn and the other one doesn’t. We find out that the neighbor with the beautiful lawn douses it each spring with a chemical soup of scary-sounding ingredients that are produced on the sparkling shores of New Jersey. The scary mix is then distributed to lush-green-lawn-lovers in suburban neighborhoods throughout the country.
The other neighbor - who has yet to discover the beauty of a chemically nurtured lawn – has a traditional Maine lawn, a hard-scrabble mix of tough grass and strange weeds.
I’m old enough to remember the days before industrial-strength lawn food, when lawns in Maine were allowed to sprout an occasional dandelion or two - even a little crabgrass. It was the summer-complaints who brought lush green lawns to their Maine ‘cottages.’ They needed them for their lawn parties and croquet games. All Maine people needed was a little plant cover to hold the soil around the house to keep it from going down the driveway in a heavy rain storm. Back then most Mainers didn’t give their lawn much thought and they sure didn’t lose much sleep over things like ‘weed control.’
Now, each spring, you’ve got people spraying their yards with chemical weed killers or herbicides to get rid of the crabgrass, dandelion and other hearty lawn plants that are native to Maine.
I was at the hardware store the other day and I heard someone ask the clerk to recommend something to kill what he described as an entrenched stand of Japanese knotweed.
I just shook my head, thinking: You’d never hear talk like that in the old Maine.
Japanese knotweed? What did it ever do to him, anyway? I say anything on my ‘lawn’ that can survive a Maine winter should be allowed to live and even prosper. Besides, winter will be back before we know it and all our lawn issues will be buried under a few feet of snow.
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly
throughout New England. John’s e-mail address is mainestoryteller@yahoo.com.
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