The promise of spring is kept


If there is a whopping blizzard on the Thursday this article appears, it is all my fault, because this Thursday (March 22) I unplugged the heat tape in the barn.
With March winds sweeping the aisleway, with both front and back doors open, the promise of spring seems to have been kept – at least for the moment.
And it was so delicious yesterday to sink my fingers into the wet earth, to pull out the pale skeletons of last summer’s nasturtiums, to carefully rake leaves away from the brave crocuses (that is really supposed to be ‘croci’) that lift their sweet faces to the momentary sun, to call “goosie, goosie” to the pair of Canadas that has been sailing the pond since the ice went out.
Love the sound. I love to hear the ruckus when another pair dares to intrude and gets routed with much honking. No, the resident pair didn’t respond to my call, but eventually they’ll connect the sound with food and come to the barn door for corn.
Everyone else dislikes Canada geese, but I’m not everyone else!
New project. With a scarf over my ugly hair, with gloves on, with the old nylon jacket covering my shirt, I begin the month-long project of ridding Apache and Toby of their winter coats.
Just touching them starts an avalanche of hair, and one swipe of the shedding blade loosens a half-bushel of it.
I toss the accumulation onto the manure pile where the daggone sparrows await nesting material.
Not a glimpse. The corn I have been putting out for the lame doe has gone untouched for two nights now, and I have not even had a glimpse of her.
But muddy tracks on the driveway tell me she is still around as the tracks are blurred where her crippled left front leg would have skidded. Now that the weather has at least moderated for the time being, I’ll not worry so much about her.
Comparisons. I enjoy keeping track of spring birds’ arrivals and comparing them to the previous year. This morning I heard my first killdeer, who according to 2006, is eight days late!
The towhee that arrive last year on March 10 didn’t get here until the 18th, and I had a first-timer – a flicker on my suet cage on the 15th. He has come several times a day since.
Goldfinches began turning gold on the 16th and by the time you read this they should be gorgeous.
Another first-timer was the fox sparrow, and it has been a number of years since I had one of them. Of course, there are robins galore and mourning doves and all the other regulars.
* * *
Since Easter is once again almost here, I must repeat to you my favorite tribute to hyacinths, or Easter flowers as we used to call them.
“If thou of fortune be bereft and in the store there be but left two loaves: sell one, and with the dole, buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.”
My hyacinths are well above ground with hints of closed blossoms, and by Easter morning may well be in bloom.
Easter memories. Now, hearing on the radio on Sunday morning the Easter anthems and hymns of my childhood, I am momentarily back in the choir loft.
The organist was our neighbor, the minister was a personal friend who had several “cute” sons and a beautiful daughter who was one of my wonderful high school teachers, and the other members of the choir were classmates. We knew almost everyone in the congregation.
Walking across the bridge and up Main Street hill to church on those long-ago Easter mornings I could hear the bells, and even now when I hear them – although I am no longer a member of that church which became so changed I no longer felt “at home” – my throat will tighten and my eyes will mist.
The old menu. Mother kept meticulous records of holiday and special day menus, and you might like to know what she had written for Easter Sunday 1937, which fell on March 28:
“Sunday breakfast: sliced orange; Easter eggs; muffins; jam; coffee.
“Sunday dinner: roast pork; mashed potatoes; apple sauce; radishes; pear-lime Jell-O, cheese eggs, shredded lettuce in an Easter nest salad; yellow angel food cake, Easter design on hen, coconut nest, pastel eggs, etc., coffee.”
I wonder if today’s mothers create such memories for their children? There are so many changes in lifestyles, in motherhood, in childhood, that I doubt there is time to even think about what will be remembered.
“Today, now, forget yesterday, forget tomorrow” seem to be the bywords. My generation was so blessed to have grown up in more uncomplicated days with more gentle memories, thanks to our parents.
May Easter’s promise help you create gentle memories for your family.


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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.