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Oh, glorious spring!

Something strange and rare happened in upstate yesterday. The sun came out and warmed our corner of the world to the point that we could comfortably go outside without down coats, mittens and snow pants. For the last five months or so, we have been trapped inside our little house-cave, recycling each others' germs. Yesterday, finally, we donned our fleeces and skipped gaily into the big beyond of our yard. That's where things went a little down hill, at least for me.

Spring in upstate is a double edged sword. Nothing makes me happier than sunshine, birds chirping, and the chance to walk from the house to my car without tucking my neck into my shoulders like a turtle, protecting myself from the elements and other winter dangers. However, with spring comes a few things I don't like at all- like dirt. There's dirt all over the lawn, all over the deck, and therefore, all over the bottoms of our feet and my hard wood floors. In the spring, it rains a bit, or a lot. This means that dirt turns into mud and that means, well, you get the picture.

Besides dirt and mud, the new lack of snow reveals a number of other issues in our yard which had previously been hidden by winter's pretty white blanket. Otis, our pup extraordinaire, loves sticks. They are actually very large branches which he carries from the woods to display in piles around our yard. Otis also loves to use the yard like a running track. In addition, he is searching for gold, apparently, or digging a hole to China, as there are a multitude of crevasses every which way you turn. Last but not least, Sir Otis, Prince of Poop, has used our yard as his personal potty. Yesterday, as I swept, and re-swept the deck, I watched the girls skip and scream in spring delight as they used our yard like an obstacle course, jumping over sticks and holes, and nearly missing poop piles. Never missing mud puddles, however.

The elimination of snow further reveals our lack of green thumbs or money to plant anything to give our house "curb appeal." Spring causes me anxiety as I stress out about planting and the amount of money we'll spend to buy plants which will later die due to our rocky, dry soil or our general neglect. We just built a deck last summer, which could compete in size, cost, and grandeur with an air craft carrier. Our multi-million-dollar deck tapped out our budget and now I fret endlessly about how to decorate the deck and how expensive lawn and deck furniture is. At least the kids can use it as their own personal stage. Last year, Caroline told me she was going to get married on the deck and have her party in our yard. I wonder what all the guests would think about the poop piles and sticks.

This next yard peeve I can see all winter from my perch on the couch, but going out and physically being able to touch it gets me all riled up. Some of you folks, who have been to our house, know all about this one-the hot tub. In a moment of brilliance, Andy decided to buy a hot tub at a yard sale. We spent oodles of dough on a cement pad and electric hook up for the tub. We used it twice before it broke. It's on Andy's "list" to fix. Sometimes I dream that aliens will come down from the sky, and a little fork lift will come out of the secret hatch in their ship, pick up the tub, and carry it to outer space. Hasn't happened yet. I'm considering planting root vegetables in it for the summer.

And, the denouement: the garage. All winter long, the two doors of the garage stay safely closed. Granted, I am aware of what may lie behind those doors because none of our cars can fit in there and I bitch all winter about how nice it would be not to scrape the cars in the morning. When springtime comes, the double doors are flung open as we gather yard cleaning supplies and bicycles. I find that, during the long, cold winter, a large, furry pack rat has, yet again, stocked our two-bay with junk galore. Like the yard, when entering the garage, one has to skip and jump around various obstacles including, 20 bags of recyclables (full of beer bottles and soda cans, that said large pack rat has drank) broken outdoor lighting, large pieces of wood, old, super heavy (I know, I've tried to lift them and carry them away) doors, 15 plastic cups representing the casinos of Las Vegas, a box loaded with junk including an Atari and Polaroid from a tenant who passed away, things I thought went to donation years ago, VHS tapes, a table missing the top and one leg, a rocking chair, 10 red, plastic ponchos, and...whew, I'm tired and I've not worked my way out of the back, left-hand corner! Did I mention that we have an upstairs to the garage as well?

As I ventured into the garage yesterday with a flashlight, snake stick, and machete, a song popped into my head, yet with slightly different lyrics from the original:

Been spending most my life living in a hoarder's paradise.

I feel ya, Coolio, I do. Venturing out in the springtime means taking risks, seeing things you never wanted to see, things you pushed out of your mind because they are too hard to handle. It means taking your life into your hands. Or at least accepting that you are going to get poop in your shoes.

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