It came out of nowhere. One moment I was watching reruns of “The Beverly Hillbillies” and flipping through seed catalogs sent during the winter, and the next moment – BAM, I was out in the tool shed sharpening hoes and cranking the old Troy Bilt tiller.
I broke up the garden patch and a place in the lower field for potatoes.
That tiller is like an old friend. Sharky, Jilda's dad who passed away just after the first Gulf War, gave me the old beast.
It was pouring oil, the throttle control was held on by duct tape, and while it theoretically had a muffler, it was as hollow as a coffee can.
To say that baby was loud would have been an understatement. After I tilled a garden spot, I was usually deaf for an hour or so.
One year, when I got my income tax return, I bought a new commercial grade Briggs and Stratton engine for the tiller. It's been helping me deal with spring fever ever since.
Yesterday, I fired the tiller up, and broke up about half of this side of the county. When I finished, I walked barefoot in the freshly tilled soil. I sat down on the edge of the plot in the warm sun and took in all the things that seemed to have started blooming almost overnight.
Down in the hollow beside the house, there are dozens of dogwood trees, and it looked almost like we'd had a dusting of snow.
I could have stayed there the rest of the afternoon taking in the first day of spring, but I got busy and planted potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes and strawberries.
I was leaning on the hoe inspecting my handiwork when I heard giggles coming from behind me, and when I turned, my great nephew Jordan, who lives next door, had come to see what all I'd planted.
He has a dog, Lady, who is bigger than him. His grandmother, Deb, had Lady on a leash, and the mutt was dragging her like she was a skier.
One big lunge, and Lady managed to break free. She ran gleefully toward me. I'd picked up Jordan in my arms, and I stepped on the leash to stop the dog long enough for Deb. Lady quickly ran around me three times, and I found my feet and legs bound as if I'd been roped by a professional calf roper.
I almost lost my balance, so I stepped off the leash and tried to free my legs. Once free, Lady ran like the wind, pulling the leash behind her.
Before I could do anything, the leash, which was about the size of my little finger, whipped across my bare skin at an alarming speed. By the time she pulled the leash off my legs, the friction burned a stripe around my ankles. I thought for a moment I could smell smoke.
NOTE TO SELF — Never, ever try to restrain that dog by stepping on her leash.
I know there are people who don't like spring. They complain about the pollen, the heat, and all the yard chores that come with the season. But I love this time of year. Spring fever is one of my favorite conditions.