By MARY TOBIA

tneditor@tnonline.com

Spring has finally arrived in Pennsylvania!

Our backyard tulips, daffodils and hyacinths are announcing this fact even though the warm spring days have not been many.

Our forsythias are making their bright yellow appearance and the weather is making our old lilac bush think about budding again.

Soon we will set up the gazebo, lawn chairs and backyard swing for those long summer evenings of relaxing outside.

The one thing that takes top precedence over our back yard is our small garden. Again this year we are looking forward to fresh tomatoes, broccoli, green beans and cucumber vines growing in all directions.

A garden is an act of creation by placing the seed or plants in the soil.

It is an act of hospitality as the soil will sustain the young plants from now to maturity.

It is an act of hope as we know that rabbits, chipmunks, bugs, weeds or Mother Nature herself are threats that may have to be dealt with for our plants to survive.

A new garden is an act of optimism. We are optimistic that we will keep after all the weeds, that we will water the plants when they need it and we will hope that no hail or damaging storm will harm the plants.

Our garden is an act of comfort to my heart. Each year I am taken back to my younger years. I am reminded of helping my mother plant, weed and water our large garden on the farm. Hers was not just a fun project, it was one of necessity. Those picked and jarred vegetables and fruits would have to last from fall till the following spring. Every garden I plant I am surrounded with wonderful memories of my mother.

Our garden serves a purpose. It will delight our family and neighbors with freshly picked produce.

This month the soil is starting to warm and the onions, potatoes and leaf spinach are already in the ground.

In May the green beans, broccoli and tomatoes will take their place in the garden patch.

June and July the plants will turn green and lush and by August the garden will be overflowing with fresh vegetables just ready to pick.

September the tomatoes will be drooping from the vine and some forgotten ones may be rotting on the ground.

By October the colors in the garden will grow dark. The ground is growing colder and the first frost will soon blacken the tops of my basil plants. The dying, spent plants are pulled and the ground is turned and completely bare again.

A garden is a series of birth, life and death. I honestly don't know if I like the cycle but it is a rhythm forced upon us all.

Each year when I garden, this cycle returns to me.