In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at booklocker.com or amazon.com.

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In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at booklocker.com or amazon.com.

Joanne Palmer: 'The Flowerpot Shuffle'

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Joanne Palmer

Joanne Palmer's Life in the 'Boat column appears Wednesdays in the Steamboat Today. Email her at jpalmer@springsips.com

Find more columns by Palmer here.

A new dance craze is sweeping Routt County.

No fancy footwork or music is required. Just grab the nearest flowerpot and you'll be ready to do "The Flowerpot Shuffle."

Out with the flowerpots in the morning, in at night.

Repeat.

Out with the flowerpots in the morning, in at night.

Again.

If you want to change it up a little, while carrying the pots, you can tilt your head back and look up at the sky or glance at your outdoor thermometer.

Yes, gardening season has begun. Canvas totes with trowels, gloves and clippers have emerged. Bags of topsoil, peat moss and fertilizer are stacked neatly alongside flowerbeds and driveways. Dark lawn-and-leaf bags balloon at the curb filled with branches, weeds and grass clippings. Empty flowerpots hauled from crawl spaces and dark corners of the garage wait to be filled with bright and colorful summer flowers. All across the county, enthusiastic gardeners, eager to get going, ask themselves the same questions:

Is it warm enough to leave the flowers outside over night? Do I need to cover the garden? Should I water, or is it going to rain?

Gardening at altitude may look easy, but it's not. It requires a wheelbarrow full of patience and persistence. To find out whether you have talent and, more importantly, the temperament, I've listed some soul-searching questions to ask yourself. Be prepared to conduct a fearless inventory of your strengths and weaknesses.

1. Do you like being upside down? Gardening requires hours spent in positions only a yoga master finds easy or enjoyable. Hundreds of forward folds, deep knee bends and squats will put you on a first-name basis with every anti-inflammatory in your medicine chest.

2. Are you a good decision-maker? To mulch or not to mulch? That question and dozens of others will await you if you decide to take on the challenges of high-altitude gardening. Is that a weed or a flower? Do I want a raised bed or container garden?

3. How is your memory? Can you remember where you planted and what? Did you put out row markers or plant cards? Is it out of the mow zone or will you eliminate hours of hard work with your lawnmower?

4. Are you even-tempered? If after spending $90 on a "guarantee-to-grow" wildflower mix, nothing sprouts but weeds, can you maintain a Zen-like attitude, or are you going to blow your cool?

5. Are you frugal? Can you resist the urge to spend $450 to grow one cherry tomato?

6. Are you vigilant? Gardeners must be on high alert to ward off neighborhood pets. It's almost a given that as soon as you finish carefully coaxing new plants to life, Fido in pursuit of Fifi will trample right over your precious plants. Be diplomatic.

7. Are you psychic? Most gardening guides promote planting certain seeds after the last frost. That may be easy to predict in Georgia, but here in the 'Boat, you're better off looking into your crystal ball or getting out the old Ouija board for a date between April 30 and July 4.

8. Are you jealous? Do not make the classic beginner's mistake of trying to copy your neighbor's garden. Although you may purchase identical plants, hers will bloom into a gorgeous full bush, and yours will never mature past the "twig-ette" stage.

Now that you have your answers, put on your dancing shoes and bust out a few moves of "The Flowerpot Shuffle."

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