Monday, April 23, 2012

Springtime At The 46th Parallel, In The Gulf.

PEI is greening up again. I’m sure spring is just lovely in most places that enjoys all four seasons, but there’s something sweet about spring on Prince Edward Island. The air is always sweet here, no matter what time of year it is. I know I’ve written about this in the past, but there’s a damp fullness to PEI air that is intoxicating, especially when one is arriving from a vast, dusty metropolis.

PEI’s soil is rich and red and absolutely glows in spring showers, but what you can really smell is last year’s mulching crops being munched by awoken worms. In April melting ice pours off the fields, dragging away nutrients and colour. I love watching the water run. I go out to Pownal and stand on the side of the road, my shoes squishing in the muddy grass, sun on my neck, fascinated by the lacy rivulets losing potential energy. I could watch them for hours.

Springtime is also a fantastic time to remind yourself that you’re never terribly far from farmland on PEI. Even on campus at UPEI there are times you whiff farm, and by “whiff farm,” I mean “smell shit.” Well, manure, technically, I suppose. I drove up West with my mum on Friday and I saw a farm implement I’d never seen before – it was like an automated manure flicker. It had a flat conveyer belt-buggy on the back of a tractor, which moved manure to the end of the buggy where a long rotating brush would catch the bit about to fall off the end and propel it in an arc onto the field.

Well, what I should address, I suppose, is how much I love the smell of manure*. To some, it may just be shit, but no – it’s fertility and tradition and home. I spent a lot of time between PEI and Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley when I was young, and farmers preparing their fields for their crops is a point of pride. I come from fertile soil**.

The grass is greening and the trees are budding their little yellow-green and rust-red buds. The crocuses are come and gone, and now daffodils and tulips are blooming alongside daylilies warming up their rhizomes. The ice is out of the harbour, the days are longer, and the salt trucks are parked for another seven or eight months. I’ll soon be reading on the deck and slinging tickets to tourists in town. Mum needs some help edging her flower beds while Dad sorts his gladiola bulbs, and I’ll sleep with the windows open, happy to be listening to screaming foxes.

*This love is not extended to liquid pig manure. That shit just straight-up reeks.

** Even Newfoundland, where I was born, has farms, of course, but I was rarely there in the spring, so mostly PEI and NS spring to mind when I whiff manure.