Spring is in the air in West Virginia…this week, anyway. I am only thinking positive thoughts about Spring. That’s what I’ve decided. Spring is here and I don’t want to hear that winter is hanging on for dear life in the Mid-Atlantic states and that more snow could be coming my way. I just don’t want to hear it. I even opted out of cable service around Thanksgiving last year. I’m serious about this. I want to resume sitting under my grape arbor with a glass of red wine in the evenings.
Yesterday, my sweet neighbor who keeps a weather diary, called to say that the end is near. Earthquakes, tornadoes, mud slides, tsunamis, wars, and missing planes have her convinced that the Apocalypse is coming. I can’t say that I haven’t thought about that when I read the news lately but, I try not to. I have a book to publish this summer. It cannot be the end of the world. Not yet. I’m in the middle of helping to plan my daughter’s wedding and my son is moving to Europe at the end of May. I told my neighbor that I’m just not ready. In my mind’s eye, I could see her shrugging her shoulders and felt her pity through the phone about my current state of unpreparedness.
You see, my neighbor’s cellar is packed with crates that contain new batteries, canned food, tarps, and water bottles. I just smile when she tells me of yet another item that she has purchased for her bomb shelter. I don’t make fun of her because she will remind me that I bought gas masks after the white powder scare in Washington, DC. Okay, I did. In all honesty, I don’t chide her because if something catastrophic were to happen, I want her to open her door for me, my pets, and my children who will be driving here from the DC area. We have that all planned out. If the President and his Staff can hide out in West Virginia, so can we. Don’t ask me how I know this. It’s true. My neighbor told me.
After we hung up, I took a walk in my garden. The four peony plants in the side garden have four-inch crimson shoots. Flowers, plants and Spring make me very happy. How can the world end with so much beauty around me? The lilac bushes near the front fence are full of neon green buds and the hydrangea plants truly do look dead. I don’t know about that. A bee, a sure sign of Spring, buzzed around my head as I bent over to inspect the lilies. I don’t do bees. There are two types of people with regard to bees, mice and opossums-those who stand still and those who run. I am a card-carrying member of the run like hell team. I don’t care to stand still and I don’t believe the lie that they won’t hurt me if I do stand still. I’m running in the other direction, away from the bees, the mouse and definitely, running from the opossum. You can act out the part of the pretty bee charmer in the film, Fried Green Tomatoes, I’ll be holding the ice pack when you get stung.
For any potential mouse situation, I have a cat named Pierre. I know this 108-year old house must be hiding mice somewhere, but I haven’t seen any in the four years I’ve lived here and that makes me very happy. Good boy, Pierre. Like I told the spirits when I bought this old house, “You can stay as long as I don’t see you.” A conversation with spirits, by the way, works best while burning Indian sage and reciting Saint Michael’s prayer.
So no mice experiences to date but, I have had experiences with opossums. On cool evenings, my friends and I like to sip wine under the ancient grape arbor in my patio. On one particularly glorious summer evening, two friends and I were enjoying a great bottle of Rioja which was to be followed by an amazing Malbec. Mister Opossum, a balancing genius, made his way along the top of the fence. Stealthy little bugger, too. We didn’t notice him until he was close enough to touch my friend’s shoe. Opossum eyes are freaky. Friends scrambled, French cafe chairs toppled over, wine was spilled (which is always such a shame), and I was the first person through the kitchen door, followed by my friends. We peeked out the door and that opossum just made himself comfy on a wicker chair until we formulated a counter attack that involved a broom and a dust pan.
My neighbor says that as long as the old Concord grape vines produce copious amounts of grapes, I’m the food source in the neighborhood. In the summer, I grow vegetables which she approves of. She reminds me, however, that we won’t be eating the grapes or the vegetables when the end comes because they will be contaminated with noxious gases and fumes. I don’t know about all that but, being a food source for opossums is a real problem for me. I love those grapes and I’ve always wanted to learn how to make my own wine. Okay, I would probably only have enough grapes for a bottle or two but, I would love to try. The thought of that opossum lips licking my grapes, however, has turned me off entirely. You understand that I’m turned off to using those particular grapes in wine making, not turned off to drinking wine. That would be crazy.