Doug Lewandowski column: Taking a survey of springtime

When the seasonal rains come, more and more debris will be exposed.

I hear the sump pump in the basement running every two minutes now, and junk from winter is showing up in the yard. It’s a sure sign that spring and spring cleaning will provide some distraction from our current predicament.

Ever since last Thanksgiving’s Snowmageddon, it has been hard to figure out what’s out there. I know for a fact there are a lot of branches lying around; I can see them, strewn all over what’s left of the remaining snow cover. The big maple lost some large limbs that cover an old cement bench. That’ll require a chain saw intervention. The spruces had clusters of small branches blow off their tops by one of our big gales, and lower boughs, not strong enough to hold heavier snow loads, also took a hit. Then there’s the young Norways that always seem to get buried and end up in twisted, broken messes that makes their survival touch-and-go.

Underneath all the leftover snow lie the dead leaves I never raked up from last summer. We were out of town late into the fall, and by the time we got back, cold weather rolled in, and sleet was angling down in a stiff breeze. In the interest of not having to haul vast amounts to the WLSSD yard down the hill, I had outfitted the lawn mower with mulching blades. They worked pretty well, shredding the leaves into fine particles, but the day I set to work, the temperatures were in the 20s with a northeast wind. It took me an hour to thaw out after the job was done.

When the seasonal rains come, more and more debris will be exposed. Despite robin-song in the warmer mornings, smaller songbirds have not started showing up in any numbers. Chickadees, nuthatches and juncos that hang around all winter have done a great job leaving a large pile of sunflower seeds around the feeders. Abandoned tennis balls, Frisbees and badminton shuttlecocks are emerging, stuck in the shrubs next to the house. They’ll get plenty of use when the weather gets warmer. There’s even a thawing bottle of children's bubbles soap lying under a cedar bush.

As the piles of snow disappear, it's possible to wander around the yard to survey summer jobs ahead. Ruts from a project in the backyard shared by a neighbor are still there. Trying to figure out how not to make more gouges in the soft clay will be the challenge. The door on the older garage is disintegrating, its lamination separating and looking like bird wings ready to take flight. And the expensive paint on the side porch floor didn’t hold up very well against the season’s shoveling onslaughts.


The asphalt on the driveway is looking more and more like the rest of the streets around town. I don’t worry about the car disappearing into one of them, but the perforated culvert at the end of the driveway could present an opportunity for some tire shredding.

Spring and its tasks will be dealt with in their own time. While the sump predicts warmer weather, the crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic woes, sure to follow, are concern enough.

Doug Lewandowski is a retired counselor, educator and licensed psychologist. Write to him at

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Doug Lewandowski

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