Ah, May. At last, the first of the warm weather months has returned. And we deserve it, right? All those wonderful outdoor activities can begin again. Break out the bike, fire up the lawn mower, shine up those golf clubs, find that tennis racket, that baseball glove and that soccer ball — and your sneakers.
Better try to find your shovel, too, because it’s also gardening time again. Let’s get in the mood for green-thumbing with a little horticultural humour.
• Headline on a magazine article about gardening garb, “Dressed to till.”
• The Four Laws of Gardening:
1. Other people’s tools only work in other people’s yards.
2. Fancy gizmos don’t work.
3. If nobody uses it, there’s a reason.
4. You always grow the most of what you need the least.
• Isn’t it remarkable — and infuriating — how grass grows better in the driveway than in your lawn?
• Most varieties of packaged garden seeds carry rather strong claims about the growing power of the seeds inside. One manufacturer, however, holds the record for self-congratulatory enthusiasm. Boldly printed on the outside of the package are the words: “Warning! After planting — step back quickly!”
Meanwhile, out in the forest. The new month of May always starts with National Forest Week, so here is a little trivia quiz on that subject (answers at the end of the column):
1. True or false? Cellophane is made from wood pulp.
2. How many trees can a tree planter handle in a day?
3. What are the two most common snakes in Canada?
Hint: Monty Python is not one of them.
4. What fraction of the world's animals are insects?
Checking the May calendar
• May 2 — The Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. The horses have been approaching the starting gate in this race since 1875. Our version, here at home, is the annual Queen's Plate, held at Woodbine in Toronto in late June or July. The Queen's Plate is North America’s oldest annual sports event, having started in 1860.
Down in Kentucky, their take on this is that the Derby is the oldest consecutively-held thoroughbred race in America.
• May 4, 1969 — For the second consecutive season, the Montreal Canadiens swept the St. Louis Blues in the finals to win the Stanley Cup. Serge Savard becomes the first defenseman to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs.
• May 6 — There’s an annual meteor shower for a few days on either side of this date.
There are eight of these occurrences during the year. Fabulous results are never guaranteed, but you may see a greater than usual number of “shooting stars” during this period. And, if not, well, at least it gives you something to look at while you are walking the dog.
• May 10 — Mother’s Day. The annual salute to moms everywhere brings to mind the whimsy about the little four-year-old boy who asked his mom about the meaning of the word “guaranteed.”
His mom replied that it meant, “very good, most reliable, the best.”
Later, when bedtime rolled around, the little guy gave his mom a goodnight kiss and said, “Good night, guaranteed mother.”
• May 18 — Victoria Day. It seems like we have to wait an awfully long time for the first long weekend after Easter, doesn’t it? So, enjoy the long weekend when we get to it. And remember that every springtime chore doesn’t have to be done in the one weekend and every sport doesn’t have to be played.
Just a friendly warning, in case you end up overdoing it, as so many of us do, you’ll then pay for it by not being able to move on Tuesday.
2. Under very good conditions, a tree planter can handle between 1,500 and 2,000 seedlings in a day.
3. The garter snake and the green snake are the two most common snakes in Canada.
4. Nine-tenths of the world’s animals are insects.
Extra trivia at no extra charge: In Canada, insects kill the equivalent of 250,000 acres of forests annually, while insects and disease annually destroy more timber than the amount lost due to forest fires.