Still Alive

By Joe Rector

This past weekend, I was thrilled to find out that my neighbors weren’t dead. I mean nearly all of them. They disappeared at the end of October 2023. So few sightings of them had me wondering if they’d moved or died. Not until last Saturday did they prove to be kicking and living normal lives. Out from their houses did they exit, and the rest of the day the entire neighborhood was alive.

Such things happen every spring. The weather cooperated for the first time in several weekends. Cold temperatures, biting winds and rain gave way to blue skies with a sun warming everything. Trees produced new leaves, along with fuzzy things from oaks and whirlybirds from maples. The buttercups had finished blooming, but other sleeping plants began pushing through the soil and mulch for another year.

Because I’m a mowing junky, I’d cut the grass and leftover fall leaves half a dozen times. Now, the sound of mowers being cranked and curses when those machines wouldn’t start echoed through the neighborhood. Weedeaters chewed away at curbsides and flower bed edges as they neatened up yards. I call them yards because, in Ball Camp, we care most about the ground being covered in green plants. Clover, fescue, Bermuda grass or running vines suit our needs. Oh, some folks toil in their yards to have them look like show places, but we all know that the only way to have pure grass lawns is for every neighbor to do the same thing. Our lots are usually much larger than those in new subdivisions, so the maintenance products needed to produce lawns cost small fortunes.

Most folks rested from their labors either because they were out of shape after the winter or they spent a few minutes talking to neighbors. Some wives had visited nurseries and were raring to go to fill beds with flowers and shrubs and seeds. In many cases, that meant the husbands stood ready with their shovels to dig the holes for the plants. Sometimes, couples argued over the whereabouts of those nursery purchases.

Although I’m not a fan of them, motorcycles hit the roads as folks took their first day trips to places like the mountains or the famous Dragon. Large cycles cruised while other bikes screamed as they passed. Those loud motorcycles invaded the peaceful day and caused neighborhood residents to look up and silently curse the squalling machines.

The birds returned with louder than usual voices. Their chirps were more like screams. The robins returned to my carport to once again build a nest right over the right side of my car. We warred for several days. The birds tried to build a nest, but I kept knocking the sticks and grass from the 2 x 6 beam. They finally gave up and moved to another location, but not before bombarding my car with poop and mud. I suppose I deserved the vindictive actions.

For the next few months, I’m looking forward to being outside. I’ll ride the lawnmower and use all my other tools to keep my place looking as nice as possible. Some of my time will be spent talking with neighbors, playing golf, and sitting on the front porch or poolside. Thank you, God, for giving us spring. It renews our spirits and beautifies our surroundings. We are lucky people, and I’m glad we’re all still alive.