Searching for sights and sounds of spring

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Before launching a paean to spring — surely it is here by now — I must express fervent thanks to readers and friends who took the time and trouble to send me condolences about the Feb. 26 death of my sister, Barbara.

The tribute I wrote to her, which appeared in Farm and Dairy March 6 — an extra column not on the schedule — was read at the celebration of life gathering which her son and daughter-in-law, Atty. Joseph B. and Marilyn Mick, held at their Natick, Mass., home.

Barbara’s ashes will return “home” to be joined with those of our father’s (and those of many beloved pets) in my white-fenced pasture cemetery where a flowering crabapple tree flourishes on the energy supplied by those who are gone. One day — not soon, I hope — mine will also be there.
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Now then: Easter’s joyous promise has been hailed once again and its victorious trumpets have sounded. Birds sing from first light through snow and rain and sunshine. Furled purple crocus buds await enough warmth to display in full.

The shadow-bark sycamore’s myriad little ball-like fruits hang silhouetted against the sky and wind disperses their nutlets onto the driveway.

Randy Jones, whose true nature preserve is not very far from my mini-one, reports bluebirds and herons in his rookery, plus many other feathered and furry residents who have found sanctuary in the midst of development.

I do envy him and Leslie. They have wild turkeys galore, deer that are no longer shy about stealing birdseed from numerous feeders and a “regular” fox visitor, to name just a few.

Whenever I have a significant sighting here, I call Randy and Leslie. And it was an excited call March 10 to report a brown thrasher on the porch!

This bird is a regular here in the summer, but according to my casual record-keeping, he shouldn’t be here until mid-April.

But here he was — and has come every day since — picking at seeds, which are not his preference as thrashers eat primarily insects.

The pair of Canada geese that has come here for many springs has arrived and every morning, noisily arrows in from the south to splash down on the pond or lounge on the bank until the ice melts. I assume it is the same pair, as they rest at the same spot and pay no attention to Apache and Toby, who pay no attention to them!

I expect the animal rights folks to stop by any day now to accuse me of cruelty to the horses. They’re both fat as butter, but they daily roll in the mud — it wasn’t so bad when there was snow to roll in as it was kind of self-cleaning — and with their winter coats shedding in great hunks, they do look terrible.

There is no point in grooming them since they’ll do a make-over the next day, but I try to run the shedding blade over them a few times each week.

Even though spring has officially arrived, I contain my urge to unplug the heat tape in the barn or to take down the storm front. April is known to be a capricious hellion weather-wise and so far, I’ve been spared major problems and don’t wish to tempt them.

The persistent winds all winter have downed many branches, but until the yard no longer resembles Lake Erie from all the rain, they can just wait to be picked up.

I am reading and will hate to finish a new book, Merle’s Door — Lessons from a Freethinking Dog by Ted Kerasote. The book is winner of the National Outdoor Book Award and is described as “a joyous, sad, gripping and deeply moving testament to the fulfilling relationship that can grow between human and dog,” also as “a window into the mind of a dog.”

As absorbing as it is, I am reading more slowly because as with all wonderful books about all wonderful animals, the end is predestined, and I don’t want to come to it. You will fall in love with Merle, and maybe even with Ted, who writes in the first person.
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Did I ever tell you my trick of turning Dairy Queen into a Frosty? Simply sprinkle a teaspoon of your instant cocoa mix over a big scoop of DQ, blend it in and enjoy! Good bedtime snack.
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With prom time approaching, I am wondering if there is still such a thing as a gardenia corsage? How we gloated in the good old days if we received one from our date, and how we sulked if we didn’t. One would keep in the refrigerator for days, although turning slightly brown around the edges.

The perfume could be smelled by opening the refrigerator door, and if the flower was pressed in a scrapbook, that book forever retained the scent that brought back the memory of that night and that date.
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I’ve received from a friend a whole page of Will Rogers’ quotes and I’ll pass a few along:

The quickest way to double your money is to fold it and put it in your back pocket.

Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.

After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral: when you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut.

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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