Some say that in North Dakota there are two seasons, winter, and winter's coming. Here at Greenwood, the year is divided by Memorial Weekend. Warm spring rains revive the lawn, and before it dries enough to mow, it gets ahead of me. If we try to mow too soon, the wet grass clogs the mowers. Two riding mowers struggle to keep up with the growth, and trimming around the monuments has to wait. By the time the flush of spring growth slows down, the grass around the stones is three feet tall in places...taller than the monuments themselves. The timing of the final pre-Memorial Weekend mow and trim is both critical and weather-dependent.
The lawns get a second burst of growing energy once the weekend is behind us. Tradition dictates we leave the floral tributes in place for five days after Memorial Day. But, there are traditionalists who decorate on the 'real Memorial Day,' which can be several days after the Monday observance, so five days is sometimes ten. Then we have to gather the withered tributes, jars, vases and tin cans, and try to get the growth under control again.
Summer brings the longest days, shortest nights, and varied projects to compete with the mowing needs. It is the season for leveling markers, cleaning and resetting stones, waging battle against Scotch broom, salal and blackberry vines, and preparing the winter's supply of firewood.
News commentator Paul Harvey used to claim that firewood warms you twice. We have found it is much more diligent. It warms us when we cut and haul it, again when we split it, and then when we stack it to dry. After that, it warms us when we load it, haul it to the house, and stack it in the basement. It is only after all of that that it warms us when we carry it upstairs, and cycle it through the woodstove. By then, the days are shorter, and the nights longer. We can look with satisfaction on the basement full of warmth, the monuments emerging from decades of biological growth that obscured their details and true colors, and the bits of home canning we were able to put by for winter. October rains bring an end to Fire Season, which came when we turned the calendar to July. Then we can head back to the forest to start on next winter's warmth.