"Come, gentle Spring! Ethereal mildness, come." -- James Thomson

"Come, gentle Spring! Ethereal mildness, come." -- James Thomson

Personally, I've never considered Spring to be particularly gentle. Not, at least, since I've been an adult with adult responsibilities. I suppose when I was between the ages of, say, 8 and 11 I could go outside during those first days of short sleeves and orange Popsicles without feeling Spring's stiletto heel on my instep, but that was a long time ago.

These days, Spring scarcely arrives and puts down her bags before she begins giving me a hard time.

She works mostly through others, who bend to her bidding as if I haven't been here all winter, suffering like everyone else. Just because Spring wafts in, bringing warmth and hope and delicious smells and colors that haven't been seen outdoors since we carried out the Christmas tree, everything falls all over themselves to obey.

For instance, the pachysandra has started to nudge me every time I walk out the back door.

You know how one sibling will nudge another when both are riding in the back seat of their parents' car? That's what the pachysandra's doing, giving me a tiny, almost imperceptible poke while innocently staring off across the field.

Quit poking me, I tell it, and the pachysandra makes a big show of righteous puzzlement. It's not poking me, it says.

You are too, I say. Quit it.

Quit what? says the pachysandra. Then it pokes me again. Really, it's infuriating, so infuriating that eventually I'll find a rake and trundle out the wheelbarrow and begin the job of combing out all of the leaves and twigs and corn shucks that over wintered in the pachysandra patch.

But I haven't done it yet. I've been distracted by the grass, which nips at my ankles every time I take the dog out.

Ouch! I say. Stop that.

The grass says nothing. It just looks bland, which is one of its few talents.

We'll mow! I say. In fact, we have mowed. Twice. But that's not good enough for grass at this time of year. Goaded by Spring, it wants to be mowed and mowed and mowed, so that a person feels like all he does is mow and shower off grass bits, mow and shower off grass bits. You'd think the grass would back off and let us read a book or go to the movies once in a while, but oh no. It wants our attention every single minute.

And speaking of hogging the attention, the asparagus has been elbowing us whenever we venture near its patch.

As a green vegetable, asparagus should be aware that thousands of people won't touch it, not in salads or soups or omelets or even as a garnish next to the steak. In fact, these people wouldn't recognize asparagus if it were standing directly in the path of their weed whackers, which makes this elbow business all the more galling.

The asparagus should be grateful that we recognize it, call it by name, and consume it in enormous quantities instead of jabbing us in the side every time we visit the patch.

Even worse are its constant demands, the calling out for "a rake over here, ASAP! And we could use a small trowel, if you have one, not to mention a watering can and something for all these weeds."

But I shouldn't be blaming the asparagus or the grass or the pachysandra when really, it's all Spring's doing. Spring, waltzing in with her lush generosity and her promise of good times to come!

Gentle, my foot.

Margo Bartlett is a staff writer for ThisWeek. E-mail her at mbartlett@thisweeknews.com.

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