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Something strange is going on in my backyard. Hey, stop laughing. Yeah, you, reading this there on the couch. I’m talking to you! And you on the train. Knock it off, both of you! Don’t make me come over there!

Boy, sometimes you can’t start a column without somebody ruining your mojo right out of the gate.

Like I said, something strange is going on in my backyard. Here’s what I mean.

We’re at the time of the year when things start to appear. That’s the fun part. Ah, spring! The season of renewal and eternal optimism. No matter where you live, your baseball team is going to win the World Series ... unless you’re a Cubs fan (if you haven’t figured it out by now, the thing that happened a few years ago was a statistical anomaly – it will not occur again in your lifetime), you’re finally going to drop that excess weight that has been dogging you for ... uh ... has it really been 25 years? And everything you put into the ground in the fall is going to be lush, bloom prolifically and lead inevitably to a photo spread in Chicagoland Gardening magazine.

There’s only one drawback. If you’re like me (now cut that out!) the problem is remembering what the heck you slammed into the ground at the very last second at the end of November, about three months later than you should have, which pretty much reduces the survival percentage of the plant from around 80 or 90 percent to 0 to 5 percent. Again, if you’re like me (stop it!), all of that planting happened at the end of the day, in the dark, so not only do you not know where you planted things, you’re fairly clueless about what you planted.

There is an exception to that scenario — spring blooming bulbs! Here’s a secret for all of you sad sacks who think that you have a brown thumb: bulbs make gardening idiot proof!

Almost. As long as you get them in the ground before, oh, say Groundhog Day, they’re not going to die. Think about that. Bulbs are your friend. Bulbs have got your back. And, speaking of groundhogs, the only thing you have to do to enjoy the beautiful blooms of your bulbs is to keep the squirrels, moles, voles, chipmunks, deer and a dozen other hungry animal species out of your yard. No problem!

Unfortunately, not only did I not plant any new bulbs last fall, but the daffodils I dug up while I was re-designing the yard (in the dark) got left outside when the first freeze hit. The good news is that the paté I made from them was the hit of the Christmas party. (The secret? Ranch dressing. Lots of it. And a little bit of rum.)

But back to my story. I’ve been watching with interest as various things are popping out of the ground in my yard. As soon as the weather started to turn, I saw what looked like a vine erupting from the soil — a bean vine, actually. On Tuesday, it was a couple of inches above the soil line. On Thursday, it was taller than the garage. On Saturday, I looked up and saw that the top of it had disappeared into the clouds. I’m thinking of climbing it to see what’s up there, but I’m not sure that’s a good idea.

About the same time, I noticed that some fence-post-like structures were emerging. I soon realized that they were fence posts. And now there’s a new fence in my yard. It’s a little disconcerting that it divides the yard in half, but beggars can’t be choosers.

Soon after the fence posts began growing, some other poles sprouted. These were much larger and are, as far as I can determine, telephone poles, since the metal climby-thingies are attached.

The latest thing to emerge is a bit less solid. In fact, it’s kind of ... bouncy. I’m not exactly sure, but I think that’s a fully inflated bounce house that’s establishing itself in my yard. I suspect that I’m going to be the star of the block party this year.

At this point, I don’t know what else to expect. But I have two bits of advice. 1) Don’t plant things in the dark in late November, and 2) Don’t spike the daffodil patés.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going out to bounce in the house.

Mike Nowak is an author, speaker, humorist, environmentalist, show host and entertainer. You can follow his exploits at mikenowak.net

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questions

What is the best time to plant a tree in northern Illinois?

What is the best way to dig up, clean and store gladiolus and dahlias? What are the little white sacs on glad bulbs?

At the end of every winter, there are many shrubs growing along sidewalks that are dead and damaged either by salt, wind or dogs. Are there any shrubs that I can plant in these more exposed situations and expect them to survive?

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