I can’t say I’m proud or ashamed to admit this, but I do not understand the computer. Now, I can Google in a pinch and wait impatiently behind someone showing me some supposed quick function while they make excuses for its slowness or an unsolicited advertisement popping up instead. In any event, last week’s column had a paragraph about my Dad mixing paint and using motor oil to condition the wood shingles on our house. The computer added “he” right before “used” which completely changed the idea I meant to say. I mentioned to Marie that my editor must have changed my sentence. She came to his defense and said the computer often “thinks” you meant to say something differently. Silly me, I only knew about spell check. The event made me think about quotes in the paper and how a single word, or letter even, can alter a person’s intention.

It is hard to believe that we have just started spring this week since we’ve been experiencing springlike weather for months now. People have been out all over town raking and pruning. It’s been so nice that I already feel behind before I really get started.

The seedlings I started during the last month are coming along nicely. My peas are up. I start them inside a hoop house in large plug trays. It is the only way to assure getting any. For years I tried various tricks to discourage the crows. They would pull up every single sprout just as it emerged. I hung aluminum pie pans along the rows, left a radio blaring, and resorted to faking a stuffed crow’s death. None of these methods worked except to annoy me. Now I wait until the little plants are a couple inches tall to put them outside. Works every time.

My friend, Phyllis, called from Newton. She was enjoying a walk around the Mount Auburn Cemetery. If you are ever in the area, it is a wonderful place to visit. The gardens are fabulous.

My hellebores have been blooming for a month. It is also known as the Lenten Rose. There is a lovely purple one at the entrance to the First Baptist Church on Spring street.

Speaking of lovely, the quinces are also blooming all over the place. I noticed a nice one beside the blue house just as you round the corner from Circuit avenue onto Kennebec.

I received a wonderful handwritten, three-page letter from Sheryl Campbell of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She was interested that I mentioned cilantro tasting like soap. She had an expensive and disappointing experience with the herb and also likened it to tasting like soap. I know some of you readers love the stuff and would heartily disagree. Anyway, Sheryl went on to say she spent an entire day making spaghetti sauce from scratch. She added an entire bunch of what she assumed was Italian flat leafed parsley. Oops, none of her dinner guests enjoyed the meal, as you can imagine. The crazy thing about me, I grow it even though I dislike it. Most of my customers love it in their gardens.

In my perfect world, where I act on all my good intentions, I would send a handwritten letter back to Sheryl. Instead, I will use this column as a forum.

As you certainly notice, I tend to wax political towards the end of my column. This has evolved over time. At first (five years ago) I applied politics to the production of food. I took on various farm policies and the terrible waste of natural resources, both in the growing and the transporting of our food from across the country and around the world. I have received many comments concerning this practice in the garden column. More than ninety per cent have been favorable and actually egg me on. The comments that have been unfavorable are down right personal, mean-spirited, and always anonymous.

Back to the aforementioned Sheryl. Being a “Southern gal” (her words), she took issue with my slant on the state of our country and my expressing this position in a garden column. She was respectful, kind, direct, and courageous in her disagreement with me. I love that.

Here’s the rub!

I’m up here in a tree-hugging, Volvo-driving, latte-drinking, Birkenstock-wearing, Mondale and McGovern-voting, bleeding-heart liberal, Kennedy-loving, blue state Massachusetts and I can’t help myself.