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Spring is here! Lawn and garden work is here!

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It has taken four months into 2011 for spring to arrive, and it finally did over the past weekend. Out came the gloves, shovel, clippers, rake, and trowels. The day was sunny and warm at least for Maine. My primary job for the day was to chip the branches from the tops of some trees I had cut down during the winter. The branches were on the lawn, so the time-pressure was to clean them off the lawn before I would soon need to mow the grass.

I was eager to plunge into the task, when my brain said "slow down." There were precautions I needed to take. I need gloves and a long sleeve shirt to protect my hands and arms from branches trying to scratch me. I need ear plugs to protect my eardrums from the loud noise of the chipper. I need a wide brim hat to protect my ears and face from the sun.

What about the ticks? I pull elastic around my lower pant legs and spray my work shoes and and ankles with insect repellent.

After all this preparation and search for supplies, I needed another cup of coffee.

No matter how eager we are to go to work on our spring outdoor, and indoor, cleaning and garden and lawn preparation, we do need to do some planning to prevent injury while having fun in the sun.

Along with the preparations I have already mentioned, I think the most important planning we should do is to prevent injury to our back and knees by proper bending and lifting. We have forever been told that we should bend our knees when reaching to the ground and picking up objects. We do this, but still hurt our back and knees! The proper way to prevent injury is to use garden squats. To learn how to perform garden squats you will have to consult someone who takes the re-YOUTH-enate class at the Portland Y, where these squats are practiced at every class.

Rest is important. After many long sedentary winter months, our bodies are not accustomed to hours of hard work. We do not need to be sore on Monday. Work hard for a reasonable period of time, but then enjoy a 30 minute break. You will accomplish more over the day, without overdoing it, and enjoy it more.

If you have children of any age, involve them in your spring work, but try to be creative in your motivation to make it a positive experience for them. Don't work them too long or hard, and have a special family reward for the work you all accomplished.

Another sunny weekend is on its way. Plan ahead, so you can find your work gloves stored in the back of the closet before Saturday morning. Enjoy the flowers already in bloom, and dream of all the flowers, vegetables, and fruit that will soon be on the way.