Spring miracles arrive as winter ends


No matter how many Easters, each with The Promise, no matter how many springs, each with its moment-to-moment magic, one never fails to be overwhelmed by every big or small miracle.

None of our sophisticated technological gizmos can duplicate the overnight creation of tiny green leaves on hedges that only yesterday were bare. Or set maples’ red buds against the sky. Or tell the early English violet to bloom amid the detritus of winter around the wisteria.

No David Copperfield can wave his wand and have the goldfinches change their colors before our very eyes.

Nor can all our noise awaken the earthworms that have slept beneath the snow all winter — but a dashing rain and growling thunder lure them by the scores to the warmth of the driveway where they help the newly arrived robins fill their empty craws.

And we know that more daylight and warmer temperatures bring out the best — and worst — of the season’s identities, but how do the groundhog and the ants get the message that it is time to show themselves? (Yes, they all arrived the same day, and here is a quick tip to fight the ants until you can get some traps: spray them with Windex! Or sprinkle 20 Mule Team Borax along their trails.)

As every hour brings us closer to Easter, we hear more church bells and familiar hymns on certain radio and television stations, and although I really try to avoid writing about too many memories, they do seem to speak to us at this solemn time — time which will become joyful as the sun rises on Easter Sunday.

And even if the morning is rainy, you know the sun is there, shining no matter what.

* * *

We’re having a chilly spell at the moment. Know that I brought it on because I unplugged the heat tape in the barn and removed the snow guides along the driveway. I have refrained from taking the storm front down just yet, as we can still get clobbered — April is such a flirt and many a year she has filled daffodil trumpets with snow.

The actual date of Easter this year is significant to me, as it was April 4, 1987, that I retired after 43 years of writing for the daily paper, and that summer began writing On My Mind for Farm and Dairy.

I marvel at the weekly columnists. It is a tremendous discipline for me to write every other week and I don’t know how they do it every week, along with their families and other pursuits.

Rummaging in an almost inaccessible cupboard under the kitchen counter — who ever heard of placing a cupboard so that you have to almost crawl in to see what is there and how to get it out? — I unwrapped my mother’s large blue thermos, the one she took on every journey, be it one mile or across the country. It was filled with coffee laced with rich Jersey cream from Homer Slagle’s Jersey farm on South Avenue or maybe from Hugh Fredrick’s Jersey farm on Boardman-Poland Road. Need I mention that both those wonderful farms are long, long gone, developed to the nines.

Anyhow, the thermos has a small metal cup within the lid and it is identified as the “Universal,” made in New Britain, Conn., by Landers, Frary and Clark, with patents beginning in 1914 in the U.S. and Canada and continuing in Great Britain in 1916.

I wonder how many miles it actually went, keeping both my parents hydrated!

* * *

Remember that cute chipmunk I was so pleased to see? He insisted on eating on the window feeder and so had to go live elsewhere. I was having trouble catching him so I watched the other morning as he “thought” his way around the trap.

I always place a pinch of black oil sunflowers seeds on the porch, then place the trap atop the snack so the victim must step on the treadle to spring the trap.

I actually saw him “thinking” and watched in disbelief as he deliberately nudged the trap aside, allowing him free access to the snack. Solution? I placed a brick on the trap, and when he tried again to nudge it, no way.

I took him to a pleasant place where he’ll find a lot of his relatives and my birds can eat at the window feeder in peace. If he’d just stayed on the porch…

* * *

From the Orvis catalog: “On reflection, our lives are often referenced in parts, these parts defined by the all-too-short lives of our dogs.”

* * *

Happy, happy Easter from me and all of us: Winnie, Bingo, Apache and Toby, who, alas, once again has to wear his grazing muzzle so he’ll not be celebrating!


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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.



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