Goshen News, Goshen, IN

January 18, 2013

DIRT ON GARDENING: Vacations bring luster of a flowering kind

By TOM YODER
COLUMNIST

— The winter doldrums are an inherent aspect of the day to day drudgery and the snow, the slush, and the freezing grip of the season.

As a kid, however, it was just another day and I would relish the thought of climbing that hill to sled or toboggan or ski and to get right back up and do it again and again. In more recent years it’s tubing which looks like fun but I never had the chance to enjoy that new sport.

Everyone had their perfect spot for their winter activities and sometimes several of them. My favorite spot was the “Krider hill” in Middlebury that loomed directly behind the infamous Krider’s Nursery offices and warehouse. Another plus was that it was only a block from where I grew up.



There aren’t too many hills of this height, slope, and length around anymore as most (including this one) are now developed and privately owned. Now we rely on a city park such as the Abshire Park or commercial facilities such as Swiss Valley Ski Lodge in Jones, Mich., to satisfy our urge for winter fun.

With the fears of a liability suit, and the increased insurance costs to protect owners, many of the old standbys are a thing of the past.

Well, what’s the next best thing to enjoying winter sports — how about a winter vacation?

A trip to Florida where temps are more acceptable and short sleeves and shorts abound are a welcome respite from snow boots and hoodies of our north. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy stay (although the more the merrier) but enough to thaw out and remember what is to come in another couple of months back here in Indiana.



It also lets us get up close to the southern Mother Nature’s greenery and colorful blossoms again. It would always put a smile on my face to see blossoming again while visiting the south when we were knee deep in snow in the north.

Winter vacation points of interest that offer relief from our cold might include the islands of the Caribbean or many of the southern or southwestern states- of course California (much like Florida) is always balmy (or is it)? Judging from reports at this writing they are all colder than we are. Now that’s scary!

Wintering in the warmer climates of some of our southern and western states is a common practice for many, as it was for my wife and me for a number of years in Arizona, and it was always a treasure to witness the early blossoming of plants and the green-leafed trees. The commonality of many of the flowers was always a welcome sight but even more intriguing were the many nuances of the southwest plants.

Cactus of all kinds abound at the local nurseries and flea market outlets as well as the rest of the “staples” in vegetation of the area like the Mesquite tree and the Cholla (jumping) cactus.



The infamous Saguaro cactus of the Arizona and southern California area, I learned, are a protected species. These I’ve been told, and some of which are behemoths, cannot be moved under state law without permission from the state and, even then, properly tagged and registered. New highway construction many times made it necessary to move many but they too had to go through the same procedures — normally only moved to the median or outside roadway rights. Some of these giants can weigh in excess of two tons — needless to say requiring heavy equipment to move and care not to damage.

Spring comes early in the southern states and, in the southwest if there is an ample spring rainfall, the mountains are ablaze with wildflowers — a spectacle to behold.