Essentially Ashland: By Lance Pugh — Having lived in Ashland for close to four decades, I have grown to appreciate each distinct season, for each brings a unique footprint to the valley and showers us with a modest dose of the crème of the season.

The other day I ventured outside to be greeted by a blue sky, singing birds and an apparent overnight burst of floral growth that soon had a fleet of yard maintenance estimators circling the block. I quickly ducked back inside the house, then emerged moments later wearing a baseball cap, sunglasses and carried a clipboard, paper and a pen with authority and determination. As I closed the front door I waved goodbye to the imaginary owner, gave myself a thumbs up and headed for the front gate after stopping to measure the length of the hedge and of a few low-hanging branches.

This, of course, brought immediate despondency to the bumper-to-bumper trucks that were circling the block like a wagon train under attack, all looking for a chance to talk with the property owner. As it appeared that a contract had just been inked, the landscape patrol immediately departed for more pregnant opportunities.

As the sun was shinning brightly, I snapped a few pictures, allowing for a before-and-after comparison of my efforts outside. I then gathered up a few tools and began to sharpen them when it suddenly got very dark, as if a light switch had been flicked off. I had little time to wonder as I was instantly pelted by hail the size of a 1965 Buick hubcap. Inside I went for a hot cup of tea, as hailstones began to obscure what little of the yard I could see. I parked my clogs near the kitchen table and retrieved some heavier socks to ward off the wicked weather.

Just as the teapot began to boil, the kitchen was illuminated by a flash of light that most resembled a professional baseball nighttime game at the bottom of the fourth inning. I was so startled at the sudden change from winter into spring that I dropped a teaspoon of honey into my shoes. I should have wondered where the honey went, but was still spooked at the sudden brightness and return of blue skies that I simply put the honey jar down and clogged my way outside for confirmation of this rapidly unfolding event.

I estimated that the hail would melt within a half-hour and went back to sharpening my tools. Just as I finished putting an edge on the hoe I felt, then saw, tiny snowflakes falling from a rapidly threatening sky. Within a minute the flakes had increased in size and density that I could barely see the house, which, at last glance, was only twenty feet away.

After an hour of heavy snowing, spring again appeared in the form of a melting sogginess. Eager to get some work done I went back outside to continue working on the tools. Unfortunately they were apparently covered under the white blanket as I marched about, trying to uncover them.

I was apparently closer to them than I thought, for I found the hoe by stepping on it, causing the handle to slap me hard in the face. The force was such that I recoiled backward and found the rake in a similar fashion, though this time the handle whapped me good in the back of the head. I reeled toward the house in search of a couple of ice bags, then sprawled on the sofa as the pain and swelling ever so slowly dissipated.

I squinted out the window and watched the weather change dramatically throughout the afternoon. There clearly was nothing that I could do in the face of a manic/depressive weather pattern, so I leaned into a soft pillow while contemplating how much money I had saved by deciding to do the yard work myself.

It was then that I was dragged back into the waking world by voice known well about the house.

"What the heck got into your shoe?" asked Annette, my ever observant wife.

I remained prone with my twin ice packs in place and uttered: "Oh, its nothing, honey."

Lance@journalist.com was last seen wearing snow shoes and manning a scythe. Cut him an e-mail with your gardening tips.