First signs of spring are sneaking up

Snowdrops! A dandelion! A red-winged blackbird! A flicker at the suet! A purple crocus! Ten or more whistling swans — there is a new name for them but I like the old one better, crooning their way through leaden skies on leap day.

A pair of geese grazing in the pasture in what looks like a rice field! Tall trees in the jungle, covered with leaves!

Illusion?

Wait just a minute. Trees covered with leaves? Not a single bare branch and this only not quite March, not to mention a thunderstorm and enough rain to turn the pasture into a lake with whitecaps? Hopefully, the well is quite replenished and the pond is full to the brim.

And suddenly, as though someone shouted “Go!” the “leaves” flew away in a big black cloud and all the blackbirds, which must have decided to “occupy” the jungle in protest of something or other, left for wherever they go.

Not too far from me, my naturalist friend Randy Jones, turns me green with envy when he reports 50 blue herons at the rookery on his property, and my friends Sue and Dave Scharf in Minerva counted 45 mourning doves vacuuming up the birdseed. Randy and Leslie alerted me to the swans.

Example

Remember the little essay last column on aging and how acquiring a new interest gives seniors a boost in living? I should have given you a perfect example.

Five years ago while at the laundromat the pretty older lady sitting beside me struck up a conversation and the subject turned to horses. “I’m 75,” she asked, “am I too old to get a horse?”

I assured Kathleen Brown, a retired teacher and animal lover, that she was not too old, and as she recently marked her 80th birthday she and her darling “Clarion” are the best of friends, and so are we.

Growing up in Poland was a treat — we didn’t know it then — as we all knew each other, and yes, even then there was bullying but that was normal and nothing violent. Across the creek lived the Hagberg family and their son, Peter, was a year or so younger so he didn’t “count” with we older kids. But over the many years we all grew up and left home and that too was normal.

Pete, now 83 and living in New Lyme, Conn., and I are still in touch occasionally and he has sent me a virtual book, tracing his genealogy and recalling his own youth. The only mention of me was “Our Springer Spaniel, Splash, chased Janie Steinfeld’s ducks. I got along with her parents but she was never a firm friend.”

I guess I must have been a brat and probably still am.

Pictures of old Poland and many names from my past made for fun reading. His last thought was a good one; “Whatever you want to do today, please do it.”

Advice

How about some tongue-in-cheek advice: Do not allow the dog to eat at the table no matter how good his manners are; never tow a car using pantyhose and duct tape: never lay rubber while traveling in a funeral procession.

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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