I hate to complain, but frankly, it has not been The Most Wonderful Spring Ever here in the Northeast. First of all, it dumped buckets and buckets of snow on us for the first part of it–and then, when that started to seem inappropriate even to the weather gods, it started raining and wouldn’t stop for days on end. Throughout the first two-thirds (yes, TWO-THIRDS) of spring, there have been only a handful of days when the temperature has struggled out of the 50s and 60s, and I think one day it accidentally might have reached 70 degrees before heading back down for a late-season frost that night.

But today–May 21st, the day when the world was actually supposed to be ending–the sun came out and the sky filled up with white, puffy clouds against a backdrop of deep blue, and I was moved to shed my hoodie and sweatpants and actually go outside and survey the yard.

It came to my attention that it’s time to make some deals with the natural world.

Here are my proposals:


My responsibilities: I am willing to buy and plant several species of colorful flowers that the nursery near me calls “annuals,” meaning that they will only grow this one season, and then will die. (Never mind that “annual” seems to imply that they will last a year; they will not. I know this now, and I don’t expect it). I will offer this: a nice soaking in Miracle-Gro before I put them in the ground; I will water their little delicate roots, and I will tuck them into place with mounds of dirt and mulch around them to protect them from whatever they need protection from. During the next few months, I will from time to time water them again from the hose, unless I get too busy and forget. Probably once more during the summer, I will remember to give them another taste of Miracle-Gro.

Nature’s responsibilities: In addition to enough hours of sunlight, I respectfully request that nature takes up the task of giving them the water they need. Would it be too much to ask that they not be allowed to get all passive-aggressive and suicidal in front of me and act like I’ve done some massive wrong to them by trying to provide them with a good home? This hurts my feelings. I mean well, and they should know that. Make them stand up straight and act grateful that they’re not still in those black plastic cartons that only gave them a half-inch of dirt. I would also appreciate it if they could just agree to hang on until the end of the summer without getting all straggly and pale and telegraphing to the world at large that they being mistreated. I will throw in extra weedings and at least one more dose of Miracle-Gro if they could just be grateful.


My responsibilities: I’m sorry. I mean the bug kingdom no harm, but I can assume no responsibilities toward helping out the bugs. STAY OUT OF MY AREA. This means you, carpenter ants, that are every morning marching around in the bathtub before I get into it. If you don’t want to drown when I run the water, get the hell out of the way. And you, ticks, who are determined to make every day a nightmare of searching our bodies for bulls-eye rings, the sign that Lyme disease is slowly working its way through our systems…just go hang out with the deer. (Aren’t you called DEER TICKS?) And don’t even get me started on mosquitoes and gnats. Don’t force me to endlessly chase and swat you by buzzing my ears and landing on my skin.

Nature’s responsibilities: Go away. Go elsewhere. Surely these bugs have lots of other things they could be doing. Remind them.


My responsibilities: First, snakes, I know how much you enjoy that fun game of popping out from between two rocks or from underneath a leaf when I’m outside doing my Once Annual Weeding. I’ve seen you lurking in the shade in a place where my foot was about to step, and watched you masquerade as a stick only to move quickly away when I got near. Ha ha! VERY FUNNY, snakes. And I know that I bring on your presence sometimes myself by being, shall we say, Overly Focused on just where you might be hiding (that time in the garage over by the rakes was a real hoot, wasn’t it?). I also do myself no favors by constantly talking about your scariness to others, swapping stories of your wicked tendencies, and then straining to discern if every single stick might in fact be another one of your brethren. I promise to stop talking about you, searching for you, obsessing about you, maligning you. I hereby admit that you OWN the planet earth and all its grasses and rocks and streams. Take my yard and all the fields, but leave me the house and the little plot of land where I have planted the above-mentioned annuals.

Also, please note that I planted marigolds all around. I read on the internets that you hate marigolds and won’t go where they are planted. I know my planting them may seem unwelcoming and perhaps even a hostile act. I don’t want to enrage you or anything. I just don’t want you to become confused about precisely where the boundaries of our agreement are.

Easy way to remember: Woods=yours. Where there are marigolds=mine.

STAY AWAY. Please. Don’t make me say bad things about you.