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Spring report 

“Here in New York we've devoted our spring to waiting for Andrew Cuomo,” an Up East acquaintance writes. “How are you spending yours?”

We're not waiting for anybody here in Arkansas — “it only encourages 'em,” Brooks Hays used to say — and we're spending
our spring pretty much the same as always.

Planting stuff we hope will grow, cutting back what we hope won't.

Putting up the woolens, getting out the cottons. Airing up tires, charging batteries; changing filters; lubing whatever's lubable; boldly caulking where no one has caulked before; enjoying other people's azaleas and wishing we could do that.

Resuming the losing wars against the creeping, buzzing, slithering varmitry.

Wondering why there are no kites. No bats in the twilight or bees to disperse the pollen, which hangs in awful clumps and cakes your viscera when the wind blows. No clouds that look like spring clouds did back before the big climate change.

My brother-in-law put out some string beans the other day. His moocher relatives, including ol' moi, voted for purplehull peas, and he says maybe, when it gets hot, depending on what condition his condition is in then.

The deer will probably beat us to the beans and peas both. They've swarmed this bailiwick like a meg of Snopeses and arrogated it like Zhivago proles. Even here in the middle of town, a growing herd comes nearly every evening to denude a few more of my nandinas. Sometimes they come at mid-afternoon, during Judge Judy. I've had more than one of them tell me, snorting back over its shoulder, “Hey, Tubby, I ain't a-skeered of you.”

One brother fishes for “hogs” down in the refuge where the ivorybill lurks, or used to. They do catch-and-release now.

That's what fishing amounts to here in Century 21 — you catch one and release it, then catch another one and release it, or catch the first one again and release it again. I don't understand it, being of the old-fashioned turn of mind that sees them strictly as something to eat. After you've dreened off the worst of the quicksilver, of course.

The other bro got a late start on his seasonal agri, horti, and pine-plantation management duties on account of having to have a bum kidney removed. A modern medical miracle, they suck those rascals out now like you do pineapple chunks through your milkshake straw, and send you on home soon as possible because you're more likely to die from something you caught in the hospital than from whatever it was that fotched you there.

A sister recalls when somebody told her you could keep raccoons out of your corn with bright lights and loud noise, so she strung her patch with Bill McCuen-like Christmas lights and amped up the midnight radio, only to have neighbors phone authorities to report a UFO landing. And the raccoons got the corn anyhow, apparently drawn by the spectacle rather than frightened by it, perhaps thinking they'd stumbled on a country carnival put up just for rube varmints.

One neighbor is rebuilding the family room on the back of his house that was damaged by the serial flash floods that followed last year's epic downpours. Been good weather for that work, and there's only a little irony as yet in passersby opining that we could use a brisk shower or two to settle the dust of this dry spell and allow our trees and garden truck and moody grass to fully resap.

Another neighbor has put in a little box garden and erected an imposing scarecrow to guard it. This scarecrow doesn't advance the scarecrow esthetic much. He's got a basket head and only a blue tarp toga to hide his naughty bits, assuming he has any. Not exactly a gay blade as scarecrows go. Altogether lacking in the beanpole suavity that for a time back in Century 20 had a whole scarecrow generation around here looking as debonair as Ray Bolger after he'd been degoofied and rebrained by the Wiz.

I've heard that some of these Tea Party protesters are supplementing the government doles they live on by hiring out as scarecrows. If they aren't they should be, with their talent for pieplate hoodoo and making racket. Just what you want in a scarecrow.

Church zigzag down the street a ways had a living Easter re-enactment, not on a Eureka or Oberammergau scale of lurid, but spring-inspired with trumps and hoopla giving it contrast with the somber living Manger Scene at Christmas.

Pastor of that church or another of the ilk dropped by a while ago to let me know Jesus is alive and well this very day and much concerned about my personal salvation from his perch there in Glory. I told him that I was mighty obliged, as Pap used to say, but that both of them surely had worthier redemption candidates than my immortal pip, which has been accurately compared to a run-over nutria in a roadside mudhole or the charred remains of a exploded old football pulled from the ashes of a house fire.

And of course there's this: As every spring (and thrice more annually) we've changed the flowers on the graves of loved ones and those maybe not so loved but dutifully remembered.

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