HodgePodge: Hello and welcome sunshine

HodgePodge: Hello and welcome sunshine

HodgePodge by Charlie Hodge

“Spring has sprung, the grass has riz.

I wonder where the birdies is?”

I have no idea who or where that grammatically wrong stanza hails from, only that my mother use to regularly lovingly blurt it out in jest when spring arrived. Now it’s stuck in my head like one of those bad songs that just won’t go away. Regardless, the sun is out and thank you for that.

Not sure about you but I had reached critical mass of dull day indoor depression – though I’d not realize it until I went outdoors into the crisp yet bright sky. In a home where shopping by catalogue or online is largely reserved for seed and plant catalogues in March and not Christmas gifts in November – March and April can never come soon enough.

Tez and I live for spring and summer and having our hands in the dirt. The day after Christmas our minds set to planning and analyzing our third of an acre yard. What to plant where, how to rotate our gardens, what companion planting for the new season, what worked the year before, what didn’t…? Such discussion helps us get through the indoor cold weather doldrums, psychologically helping us stay positive until we can actually start gardening. Last month we joined the Kelowna Garden Club and went to our first meeting which was wonderful.

Fortunately I was raised in a gardening and farming environment – fully valuing the many benefits of growing my own food: organic eating, physical exercise, mental health, food supply …

Like other gardeners we were already in the growing food mode when COVID hit, and watched with some mirth others scrambling to learn how to grow food. Seems it tis the nature of man to lose or ignore basic life skills until crisis demands a relearning or return to survival basics. Now that COVID has (in theory) diminished it seems greenhouses and other plant sources are not being cleaned out of stock as fast, allowing veteran growers the opportunity to purchase according to plan rather than emergency stockpiling.

Regardless, Tez and I spent last weekend starting to clean off last years’ vegetable and flower beds, thinning out weeds, winter cover and old growth. Like giddy kids we spent the weekend oohing and aahing at every little green shoot we found popping up beneath a bundle of old leaves or weeds. This week or weekend we will get out the clipboard and paper and decide what to plant where in our raised beds, then I can lose the notes and drive Tez crazy by planting without rhyme or reason when she is not around.

Other folks take fancy holidays in the spring or summer, flying to other lands. Tez and I visit our back yard. Granted a lack of significant income much of my younger life reduced my travelling ability and being oxygen tank dependent dictates it now, however we still just simply love the calm and joy of getting our hands in the dirt at home. Tez does most of the hard work and grunt labour being of reasonable health and lungs that work. I do my best and help with what I can do. We make a rather good team considering.

I admit to a sad syndrome session Saturday when the talented team at Cody Tree Service came and took down my beloved Corkscrew willow tree in the front yard. I planted it in 2006 and the unique tree had bolted to life quickly producing amazing branches and a pleasing unique landscape. The heavy snowstorm last winter however placed too much weight on the thinner, older branches and the tree split in half. After agonizing over options of keeping it alive, safety and common sense ruled the day. The tree held a symbolic meaning for me as well, so its demise cut even deeper.Once again, though, Tez and I now have more landscape analysis to deal with. More garden? Vegetable or flower? Raised bed or free flowing? Another tree or shrubbery?

Life is about choices and a garden is the absolute best example. The death of that tree provides options of responses, and we can make the best of the opportunity before us. We can do it together.

I think it may take a few cold beverages to properly analyze the correct approach – and like the gardening choices the possible beverages to help in the planning exercise are also numerous.

So, from now until we roll up the yard in October you will know where to find us. With the exception of work and the hockey playoffs, we are in the backyard either planting or planning. Close friends are welcome to join us for either.

Happy planting.

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, a current Kelowna City Councillor, and a Director on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan Board. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, personal coaching, and strategic planning. A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge also co-hosted a variety of radio talk shows and still writes a regular weekly newspaper column titled Hodge Podge, which he has crafted now for 41 years. His biography on Howie Meeker, titled Golly Gee It’s Me is a Canadian bestseller and his second book, Stop It There, Back It Up – 50 Years of the NHL garnered lots of attention from media and hockey fans alike. Charlie is currently working on a third hockey book, as well as a contracted historical/fiction novel. His creative promotional skills and strategic planning have been utilized for many years in the Canadian music industry, provincial, national, and international environmental fields, and municipal, provincial, and federal politics. Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic motivational speaker, and effective personal coach. His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa and five spoiled cats.


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