We haven't drained the pond and scooped out all the muck for a few years, so that was the big garden project for this month. Mark managed to get most of it done in a day with the help of an energetic friend from the coffee shop. For a couple of days beforehand, we had a pump in the upper pool of the stream that was hooked up to a hose. I moved the hose all over the garden letting nutrient-rich water soak into the ground around all the trees and shrubs.
My job was to trim the water plants the guys hauled out of the pond and brought over to me. I was working at a saw-horse table under a big maple tree in the shade. Since we started at 8 a.m. when the temp was around 40 degrees my biggest concern was being warm. So I wore heavy tights under flanned-lined Japanese farmer pants (20+ years old from the original Smith & Hawken), wool socks, rubber boots, camisole, turtleneck, heaviest possible hoodie (with a wool beret under the hood). The final layer was a down vest, rubber-coated apron and cotton garden gloves inside a pair of Mark's rubberized gloves. Nice and toasty (and now I have a clothes list for next year's muck out).
Our newish neighbors are a young couple who are not gardeners. So I warned them not to be worried when the needles on their three large white pines turned brown and started to fall off. I described the process and then said I'd be happy to rake them all up when they came down. I was able to gather up two big contractor's bags of needles from their yard which I will use to refresh my pine needle paths next Spring. This year I had to buy needles from the Bruce Company and they weren't nearly as nice as white pine needles.
No sooner had I finished raking under their trees than Mark announced our neighbor to the East wouldn't mind if we raked up the pine needles between our two houses. Most years he uses them on his blueberry bushes and the paths of his large veggie garden. This was a real treat and provided four more bags of needles bundled up for Spring.