My first robin sighting startled everyone around me, especially the bird. I've lived here all my life and can't imagine living anywhere else, but the cold weather does seem to drive me crazier each year, as I wait for the arrival of spring.

I assigned myself several tasks to think about over the winter, which helped maintain the cabin fever craziness. I should convince myself to work on large undertakings on the inside of the house when it's too cold to go outside, but it just never happens.

Since I already planned what was going in the garden, I needed something else to occupy my green thumb, which was about to resort to watering plastic plants, just for something to do. With several days of spring-like weather, I was tempted to put some plants in the ground, but I'm not crazy enough to forget Mother Nature is capable of a 70-degree swing in temperature in just 24 hours.

Shaggy, unruly, overgrown plants separate a portion of the 10 acres from the street. From small trees to unnamed bushes, the more than 300-foot long bank had eventually grown to be 10 feet tall and it needed to come down. At the end of last fall, with a chainsaw in hand, it didn't take him long to cut it all off. Because I can see the bank more clearly now, I've spent the winter months thinking how great it would look, if permanently cleared of debris, and a spectacular ground covering flowing over the hill.

He said it would be too much work to remove the hundreds of small trees and bushes that are growing every which way on the sides, top and bottom of the bank. His solution was to keep it trimmed down so it didn't look as bad as it really is. I might have gone with his theory until I told him my vision of what the bank could look like and he said, "it can't be done."

Whether he said it on purpose or without thinking, he knows I can't resist proving him wrong.

I knew he wouldn't even consider letting me loose with the chainsaw, and since I want to keep all my limbs, that's probably a wise decision. When I told him I intended to tackle this project, I think he was just humoring me when he handed over the Sawzall, extra batteries and poison to put on the stumps to keep them from growing back. There's so many woody plants, I'm sure he thinks it's just a matter of time before I give in, but I won't.

Whenever there's a break in the weather, I've been cutting and pulling, inching my way down the bank. After four days of clearing, I limped back to the house, holding my back, covered in mud from head to toe, my arms and hands numb from using the Sawzall, and had only 30 feet cleared to show for it. It was the moment he'd been waiting for. As he eyeballed his Sawzall, covered with mud, he asked, "are you ready for me to just keep it trimmed down?"

Just what I needed to fire me up. I plastered a smile on my face, straightened my crooked back, and said, "I'll get it cleared and the ground covering planted by April."

I may have ground covering planted in a couple weeks, although I won't be to stand up straight again until winter.

Sandy Turner lives in Independence. Email her at