Spring Has Sprung!



There’s a certain time – perhaps in a late winter thaw – when I notice my tulips and crocuses sticking their spiky, green noses up in the air to see if it’s warm enough yet to come out of hiding.

At first, I want to say, “Get back down! Don’t you know we could still get socked in with a foot or two of that white stuff? It’s happened before…and you’ll be sorry.”

Just a couple of weeks later, when I see they didn’t give up and they keep stretching up higher and higher for as much of that early springtime sunshine as they can soak up, I congratulate them for their wisdom. Yup, as usual, garden flowers are smarter than me.

By now, I am eager to get going with some serious gardening. But now the flowers and bushes and grass are dragging their feet. I can’t get anything done yet. Boy, am I impatient. I’ve been too long cooped up and too long scarved and gloved.

“It’s spring fever,” Mark Twain once explained. “That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want — oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!
If you are like me at this time of year, impatience can be your best playmate. You’ll be tempted to buy everything in the seed catalog, un-pot those winter weakened house plants into the warming dirt and buy a bunch of ornamental trees the greenhouse guys have already coaxed into bloom, as if you could do the same.

But what if those nice greenhouse guys just aren’t ready for you yet?
You take your shovel and your trowel and a bucket and you march yourself out into the nearest plot of wild wilderness you can find and dig up a few of whatever is blooming and terribly pretty. The happy springtime hunter.
That’s probably before you discover that dangers that lurk among some of those leaves, though. Consider these, merry warrior.

Did you know the lowly but beautiful Buttercup is among the more deadly garden plants? Enjoy, sniff, but do not nibble. Ingestion may lead to a painful death from organ failure and nervous system intoxication.

You might stumble across berry bearing bushes with yellow-green flowers and pretty, shiny green berries and fragrant greenery that looks like bay leaves. Spurge Laurel is one of the more dreadful deaths in the Plant Kingdom offers curiosity seekers. Its sap will cause blistering, but even a couple of berries will cause major internal bleeding, organ failure and death in several hours.

Or maybe you’ll just get lucky and find a bizarre little flower called the Naked Man orchid. It can’t hurt you, but it looks like its name and might frighten children and little dogs.

Ready to give up? Trot on down to the Jamestown Savings Bank Ice arena this weekend (read all about it in this week’s Jamestown Gazette cover story) and have a nice, soothing chat with a master gardener. A sunny day in your garden is better than a fistful of tranquilizers.

You’ll come home ready to dig your spade into springtime and come up roses.
“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt,” famed naturalist Margaret Atwood said. Enjoy the dirt, and enjoy the read. Happy Springtime.

Walt Pickut
The Jamestown Gazette

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Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.