Thoughts of spring

Jerry Apps
Thoughts of spring bring happy thoughts of gardening.

After twelve straight days of below zero mornings, more in other parts of Wisconsin, the temperature is finally climbing, with a prediction of some above freezing days. I remember so well when I was a kid, days similar to what we just experienced. I also remember the first thaw when the eaves on the barn roof began dripping.

My Dad would say, “I can smell spring this morning.”  And it did feel different as I trotted out to the barn for the morning chores. Rather than thinking about keeping warm, keeping the woodstoves going in the house, the pumphouse and the potato cellar, and shoveling snow, I could think about spring.

Spring meant gardening. On the farm, we always had a huge vegetable garden. I still have a large garden at my farm. These days, my kids, far from being kids anymore, have taken over the garden work—the planting, hoeing, rototilling, and harvesting. They bought a folding rocking chair for me with a sign on the back that reads, “Senior Supervisor.”

I am in charge of what gets planted where, what gets planted next to each other and what doesn’t. When to plant. Peas, lettuce, and radishes in the ground as soon as it can be worked. No vining crops until the soil warms. Things I learned from more than 60 years of gardening. 

As I look out the window, with the snow still piled high, I am looking ahead. Looking ahead to once more feeling the sun on my back, listening to bird song in the background, and watching my kids once more bring the garden to life.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Thoughts of spring bring happy thoughts of gardening.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work, go to