Spring blooms overnight in Ohio

Was it magic? Was it time-lapse photography? Was it a mirage? How is it that the thicket — my jungle to the west — was dark and bleak one day and by morning was swathed in a green veil?

What spread the lawn with a duvet of purple violets and pushed smiling dandelions through sodden grass overnight? What signal told the snowy egret to leave Florida for a rest at my pond in Boardman?

Did the same signal direct the barn swallows to arrive in this barn on April 25, the exact date they have been coming here for years? Leaf by leaf, bud by bud, blossom by blossom, May is the magician, taking over where a grumpy April left off, and we have welcomed her in spite of the “warts and all.”

In long-ago times, the first of May was cause for celebration. Flower baskets were left at the doorstep of your beloved and you gathered around the Maypole for a rollicking dance. We have lost many of those sweet customs in our “progress.”

Good and bad

Yes, there are “warts” to every season and while we think we are going down for the third time in the seemingly endless rain, what we see in the south — death and destruction and tragedy — should make us count our blessings and pray we will be spared.

As eager as we are for pleasant weather, take time to remember the persistent ants, the loud cars and motorcycles, the boomboxes, the “fun” some mischief-makers have driving across your yard to leave ruts that will remain until next year.

I’d like you to meet Maximus, a magnificent 90-pound German shepherd. You may have already met him, perhaps in a nursing home, adult handicapped workshops, school classes, special programs, petting zoos or strolling in a park.

If you visited him at home with his family, Boardman police officer Jack Neapolitan and his wife, Barbie, and daughter, Destiny, you would find him a gracious host.

Loss

On Dec. 27, 2002, Rookie, Jack’s K-9 partner, was killed in a freak accident. Jack was heartbroken. To ease his heartache, Barbie surprised him with a 20-pound German shepherd puppy, which he named Maximus. Having always been interested in search and rescue tracking, Jack began Max’s training at three months, and he has progressed rapidly. In fact, recently he tracked a trail for a mile and a half, and better still, followed a trail that was five days old.

When I was so “handicapped” this winter, Jack made sure I didn’t need anything. I’ve known Max since he was a puppy. Jack is entitled to be proud of himself. So is Max.

Speaking of dogs, my darling Winnie has been the light of my life, my joy and my comfort for four years as of May 17 and I don’t know what I would have done without her. She also has a “wart” or two. In her older years — she is almost 11 — she’s taken up thievery and I have to keep edibles at the back of the counter.

Tea thief

Making myself a cup of tea the other day, I put the cup of water in the microwave, got out the tea bad and glanced into the barn, took the cup of hot water out and reached for the tea bag. Gone. Miss Winnie had helped herself, string, tag and bag and smiled guiltily when I told her she was a bad dog. Her smile is irresistible so she was forgiven.

For a fascinating read, try The Daily Coyote, by Shreve Stockton, the true story of a young woman’s successful effort to raise a baby coyote in the wilds of Wyoming. She is also a professional photographer and the pictures are incredible.

About the Author

A lifelong resident of the Mahoning Valley, Janie Jenkins retired in 1987 as a feature writer and columnist at the Youngstown Vindicator. In June of that same year, she started writing her column, "On My Mind" for Farm and Dairy. She loves all animals and is an accomplished equestrienne. Local history is also one of her loves, and her home, the former Southern Park Stables, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. More Stories by Janie Jenkins

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