In Texas, summer-like temperatures arrive in late April or early May. So it was time to get the great outdoors ready for summer activities, especially the pool. The bottom was covered with leaves from the neighbor's tree, so I got the little pool-cleaning robot running and soon, with frequent emptying of its collection bag, it had picked up 98% of the leaves. Chemicals were added and now it's sparkling clean, except for a few little areas. Soon, I'll commandeer my two eldest grandchildren to get in the water and scrub those spots with an old dishtowel.
With the help of my granddaughter Lena, I'd already planted my standing raised-bed garden with a new batch of tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, and various culinary herbs. I even added a few flowers along the front edge. Sadly, last year's garden was rather a disaster. So this time, I first sought the advice of our local nursery, which recommended adding a bag of manure, some new soil and fertilizer. It's all thriving now, so I just need to water daily.
Then it was onto the patio, which needed to be swept and hosed off. Two of my big plants didn't survive the winter, so I added new ones, including a gardenia, which I am hoping not to kill. I love this fragrant plant, as my wedding bouquet of 50 years ago was made from its blossoms. We had recently replaced the "firebox" of our gas grill, which sits in a masonry wall, and all the parts inside, so we're ready to cook outside.
Yesterday, my daughter Hannah and all three grandkids showed up for pancakes, bacon and fruit before tackling the area around the pool. Using her dad's ShopVac, Lena vacuumed up all the leaves that had accumulated around the patio furniture. Booker moved the seat cushions from the winter home in the garage so that Hannah could remove their black trashbag coverings. He also helped Hannah move a broken pool shade out to the street. Noah mainly kitbitzed around, trailing his hand in the cool water of the spa while Hannah and I kept a close eye on him.
In the early evening, I planted colorful annuals in six containers and placed them around the pool deck. I had given up on my lemon tree, so it sat on the patio all winter. Amazingly, it started to sprout new leaves, so I watered and fertilized it. Now it has a crown of glossy green leaves and a few buds! We look forward to lots of happy days with the kids splashing in the pool and all of us enjoying our beautiful outdoor environment.
I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.