By Diane Lockspeiser
When the Winter snow buildup melts and the ground thaws to soak it up, the world turns soft and muddy. When it happens here, we call it Mud Season. I find it the best time to do what I call Infrastructure, moving rocks and dirt.
It’s especially the best time to move the large gravel that we have in abundance at our place. Later on in the Spring, plants start growing in between them and get in the way. When the clay soil dries out, it becomes almost like cement holding the rocks in place.
It took me a while to figure out what was going on at our place. When the snow covers everything, it’s hard to tell the lawn from the parking area, so the plow tends to push some of the gravel onto the lawn. That’s normal. As I moved the stones off of the lawn, I discovered at least two inches of gravel underneath a very large area of wild strawberry vines. That’s not normal.
Beyond that, there’s a very large and thick area of gravel before getting to the main driveway, which has almost NO gravel! At first there weren’t any weeds in this area. The previous owners must have used herbicide. After two or three years, we started to get an abundance of weeds in the middle of the driveway, but little to none on the sides where the gravel was nice and thick.
I am guessing that the previous owners didn’t bother to move the gravel off of the lawn during the thirty years they vacationed here, and so the parking area gradually widened to its current state. I’ve been working to change it, but it’s slow going because (1) it’s a very large area, (2) it’s not an urgent issue and (3) I am doing it myself with only a garden rake, shovel, and metal pail – and only during Mud Season, when I am antsy to get outdoors and it’s too early to work in the garden.
As I mentioned earlier, this is usually in March. I remember one year there was a long warm spell in February and then it snowed for most of the Spring. That year I got more Infrastructure done during the Winter than I did in the Spring!
This year, I was surprised to find the right conditions in early January! I would have ignored it since it was short-lived, but there had been a very large icy patch in the middle of the driveway and I was very happy to be able to remedy the situation, out in my shirtsleeves on a lovely warm Spring-like day in January.
There was another year when we had a mudslide behind the barn. I was out with my trusty shovel and bucket when my husband came looking for me.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“I’m moving mountains – one bucketful at a time!”~