Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

April 10, 2014

VALLEY: How about the penguin as the state bird?

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — With the weather finally showing signs of improving, I’m going to grudgingly drop my claim of global chilling. Maybe we aren’t headed for another Ice Age. Too bad, I was so happy with my role as an environmental alarmist. And so certain of the eventual rise of the icicle that I petitioned the governor to make the snow shovel the state symbol. 

Continuing on: After this past winter, any time or day the thermometer gets north of the 32 degree mark, it feels like a heat wave. And when it does, like the other day, I try to get outside and do some yard work.

It’s no secret that when spring comes around, there’s a “clean up the lawn” chore on the docket. Like most yards, ours contains four types of litter: branches, pine cones, dead leaves and …. well, let’s put it this way: we have a dog.

I never get used to the enormity of the challenge. My first thought as I audit Mother Nature’s redistribution is: I didn’t think we had that many trees to cause such a mess. And, second: I didn’t think I could possibly have bought that much dog food to cause such a mess.

Opening the tool shed this year was both uplifting and depressing. It yelled “warmer weather is on the way” and smirked “we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, bubba!” In one quick swoop I felt enthusiastically bleak.

Because we seldom, if ever, throw away old gardening tools, we have about 4 1/2 rakes. Combined, they have fewer teeth than an 80 year-old hillbilly. I might as well rake leaves with a rope for all the good they do. I stash them (the rakes) away in the fall with an out-of-sight, out-of-mind philosophy in hopes that the problem will fix itself. And, of course … it doesn’t happen. Never does. (Maybe next year.)

For the dog’s cleanup, I get out a wagon, dubbed the “poop-mobile.” I can search and scoop up dog-processed Alpo for hours, but it never fails that the second I put the tools away, I see 50 to 60 more piles that I missed. It’s like they’re waiting for me to put the stuff away before they pop up like zits on prom night. (Either that or my dog is following me around playing horrible practical jokes on me.)

In regard to the dog: Because it gets muddy near her doghouse, every fall I lay down an old bed sheet near the entrance to her door. It keeps her paws somewhat clean. Come springtime and drier ground, I pick it up and rinse it off with a pressure washer. It only takes a week or two to get the first layer of crud off of it.

To compound the yard’s problem, there are two old apple trees in the far end of our yard near the doghouse. How old are they? There’s a heart-shaped carving on one of them with the names Adam and Eve chiseled inside. (A little joke there.)

It’s impossible to pick up all the apples after they fall in the autumn. We’ve tried but can never keep up – there are too many. Thus, we leave them for the deer to eat. Since we got our dog, Maggie, they tend not to approach the yard as often as they once did.

But it’s not out of fear. They’re not afraid of Maggie — they just don’t like stepping into the dog sheet.

And that’s the way it looks from the Valley.

Tom Valley is a Medina resident. Contact him, and Maggie, at tvalley@rochester.rr.com.