Cultural Signs of Spring
Here in Michigan, days are getting longer, robins are appearing in our yards, and the only remnants of snow reside at the edges of parking lots where mountains of snow had previously been plowed up. Physical signs aside, there are three cultural indications that it is now springtime in the American Midwest:
- Mulch bags
- March Madness
- Spring cleaning
Here is the first sign that spring has come to the American Midwest.
Mulch bags. The corner gas stations stack up palette after palette of yard mulch in see-through plastic bags. This is the sign for do-it-yourself gardeners that it’s time to rake up lawn debris and any recalcitrant leaves that blew into the flower beds after leaf rakes were put away for the winter. Once the beds are prepped, a new layer of mulch gets added to hold in moisture for the plants and to dress up the beds’ appearance. The shredded bark mulch comes in two formats: natural “wood-colored” and tinted (red, black, or dark brown). At my local Speedway station, the palettes rose over six feet tall and completely obscured the gas pumps from view.
New Vocabulary and Cultural Concepts
robins = the robin is the official state bird of Michigan
remnants = leftover pieces
mulch = shredded organic material from trees, used to top-dress bedding plants and keep moisture in. Another mulching material is ground-up tree branches. The chunks are less consistent in shape and texture, less attractive, sold in bulk (instead of bags), and therefore, less expensive.
palette = a flat wooden form for holding stacked materials, easily picked up and moved by forklift trucks
lawn debris = miscellaneous pieces of trash accumulated under the winter’s snow (sticks, paper, cigarette butts, etc.)
recalcitrant = uncooperative, resistant