Sick of winter? We get it. This one’s been brutal — snow, ice, and wind chill temperatures so low they could make a polar bear beg for a parka.
To trick ourselves into believing that warm weather is just around the corner, we are doing things that we wouldn’t normally do until spring. It’s a way to lift spirits and forget that Old Man Winter is still knocking on our doors.
Debbie Kohari, spokesperson for Donzell’s Flower and Garden Center in Akron, said people are coming into the greenhouses just to “breathe in the scents of fertilizer and dirt.”
“I went in there, closed my eyes, and smelled the flowers,” said customer Joann Heffernan of Akron. “It’s so refreshing. It makes me think it’s spring.”
Donzell’s this weekend will offer more pleasures for those seeking a whiff of spring, as it hosts the Greater Akron Orchid Society Show, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. It’s free to wander the store and check out the exotic tropical flowers.
At her home in Akron, Cherry Dudley sits in her sunroom with the drapes open to let in the light.
“I sit facing the wall of plants, crank up the portable heater, plug in the … fountain, drink lemonade and look through gardening catalogs and landscaping books,” Dudley said. “I dream of a yard that I can neither afford or have time for, but for now it seems like heaven to me — at least until my conscience nags me otherwise to get up and shovel the driveway and sidewalk. Again.”
It’s the same story around the region. People are eager for the sights, sounds and smells of spring.
Each day Audrey Humphrey, an avid gardener, pores over the five or six plant catalogs she’s received in the mail at her home in Atwater.
“It’s pretty bad when you can tell someone what is on each page of a plant and seed catalog,” she said. “My husband, Joe, thinks I’m crazy, but I am ready to plant some of the birdseed he is giving the big flock of cardinals that come to his feeder.”
Behaviors to make ourselves believe it’s spring can inspire mental and emotional hope, said Diana Barkman, a therapist at Kessler Psychological Services in Hartville.
“They lift the spirits and increase the levels of serotonin and dopamine, the brain chemicals that give us a sense of well-being. There is a direct correlation between serotonin and dopamine levels and sunlight,” Barkman explained. “Despite the frigid temperatures, we have had many sunny, but cold days. If at all possible, bundle up and take a short walk when the sun is out. Movement of any kind can improve mood.”
Sometimes that means doing things indoors that you would otherwise do outside, if only the weather would cooperate.
“I went indoor golfing with a buddy three weeks ago,” said Bob Straight of Fairlawn. “That’s getting desperate.”
Guys like Denny Hubele of Uniontown can’t wait to get their hands dirty. But when the mercury finally rises above freezing, avoid doing too much too soon.
“I never thought I would ever say this, but I’m actually looking forward to yardwork,” said Hubele, who would rather be hiking. “The prescription for my cabin fever is a good dose of warm weather — preferably more than one day.”
It can be tempting to take your clippers to spindly-looking shrubs that look like they’ve been damaged by the winter’s brutal cold, but resist the urge. Trees and shrubs are still enjoying their winter sleep, so it’s pretty hard to tell whether bare, sick-looking branches are dead or just dormant.
While plants such as overgrown shrubs can be rejuvenated with pruning this time of year, it’s best to hold off on roses and broadleaf evergreen shrubs such as azaleas, rhododendrons and boxwoods, said Ken Cochran, curator of Secrest Arboretum near Wooster. Those plants are particularly susceptible to injury should the temperature drop suddenly after they’re pruned. Ice crystals can form in the area of the cut, he said, killing part or even all of the plant.
Better to wait at least two or three weeks and then see how the plants are doing. For now, “take a vacation,” Cochran said.
Kim Hone-McMahan can be reached at 330-996-3742 or email@example.com.