In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of yard work

Yesterday we started working on the beds. We broke off the dead tops of the asters and returned them to the soil, to feed the growth of new asters in their place (hopefully--the asters at the end of the drive have not done well in recent years). We put down alfalfa pellets and bone meal (for the flowers) in all the beds, and raked in compost amongst the leaves and mulch and dirt.

Relatedly, raking is deceptive work--it feels easy when you're doing it but when you finish you realize that your arms hurt for no apparent reason.

The garden gnome that my father stuck head-down into the ground a few years ago exploded, or crumbled, or something. It was, as I told Twitter, a comprehensive disintegration along the lines of the bit at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark when... you know what I mean. It was impressive, slightly disturbing, and slightly comical, is what I'm getting at. The gnome is no more. I may need to buy my father a flamingo.

The mystery bush by the lamppost is a tiny sad lump of half-dead vegetation at the moment, but this is a ruse that it employs to arouse hopes in certain members of the household that this year it is dying. Come summer it will reach halfway up the post in a riot of brilliant greenery. You don't need to feed the mystery bush, or prune it, or do anything, really. It does what it wants.

There are daffodils coming up. We have to work carefully around them when we rake in the compost.

Everything is still dead to appearances, but in the morning the birds and the tentative green-spear daffodils exchange rumors of what's to come.