Snow certainly covered the sarvis, along with the blooming tulips crabapples, and sundry other green and growing things. Now we can expect spring to come in her fullness, and we rejoice in this sunny April day. My nephew Josh was sharing this scripture with me yesterday, and we rejoiced together. Song of Solomon 2:11-13, “For, lo, the winter is past, and the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle (dove) is heard in our land; The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell.”
The lilac bush is putting forth purple buds, and the sweet fragrance permeates the air. I would love to hear the voice of the whippoorwill in our land once more. That crystal-clear, piercing call is the very essence of spring to me. Daddy always said that when the whippoorwill called in the spring, it was time for the housewife to get up and build up the fires. I guess until then that the man of the house did that chore.
Now with gas and electric power, all we have to do is push a button, and building wood fires is mostly a thing of the past. I’ll have to admit that wood cooking stoves are cozy and warm during the cold winter months, but I am so thankful that we don’t have to do that anymore. In fact, I can lie in bed until my long-suffering husband has the biscuits made, and my bacon and eggs are on the table. I wonder why he thinks I am spoiled?
We have always been a close family, with extended members all about us. We built on the family farm, with my siblings and their offspring all around us. The first cousins ran in a pack, with free access to all the family homes. They played and ate together, fussed some (actually they were more like siblings) explored the woods and hills, played in the creek, and loved one another dearly.
That generation grew up, and a lot of them made homes here in this vicinity. There was another pack of cousins that were like siblings. They too roamed the hills, fought and played together, and were fiercely protective of one another. We really were sort of like a clan who banded together and came to each other’s aid.
We lost one when he was only 19, (Mary Ellen’s David) grieved together and supported one another. It is still a sorrow to this day. Then another tragedy hit our family last week when another one of ours died–(Jim and Jeannie’s Steve.) He was 46, and their youngest son. Our hearts are raw from grieving, and I keep seeing the young Steve mingling with his cousins and playing up and down the creek.
We are blessed with our large extended family in that there has been such a few deaths. But we can’t stand to lose even one. As Job said, “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
It is wonderful to see our family and friends coming together in love and shared grief, supporting one another. But nothing compared with the comfort of God; the comfort which Christ promised in St. John 14-16, “And I will pray to the Father, that He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever;” How we leaned on the Comforter! And how He supplied, and is still supplying our need! Blessed be the name of our Lord!
There are more reports of finding morels, although it is just now beginning to warm up enough for these tasty little mushrooms to appear. I remember one year when Criss decided to take me to his secret merkle (which we call them) patch. I’m not sure if he took a roundabout route so I’d never be able to find it on my own or not, but it would take a compass and a detailed map to find it again. In any case, he had no worries–if I ever go there again wild hogs will have to drag me. On second thought, there probably were wild hogs lurking about. He’s safe with his secret now–you can’t merkle hunt on a walker!
I should have been warned right in the beginning when he had to hunt for ten minutes to find a crack big enough for me to enter his wilderness. It must have been Br’er Rabbit’s brier patch, for it was practically impenetrable. I don’t think the foot of man had trod that patch of woods since the Redskins had flitted through the forest.
Criss was foraging on ahead with his eyes on the ground, intently searching for the elusive merkle. I was concentrating on clawing my way through the tangle of briers and vines that were determined to prevent my entry. Criss called back cheerily, “Are you coming along okay?” “Oh, fine,” I muttered, as I tried to detach a greenbrier from the top of my head as a multiflora rose vine grabbed me in the back, and a vicious blackberry brier wound around my legs. “Are you looking for mushrooms? He asked accusingly. Looking for mushrooms? I was intent on survival. I couldn’t have picked one if a morel as big as a gallon jug had suddenly sprouted at my feet.
He spotted a little clearing about two feet wide and four feet long, “You can look in there where it is clear,” he generously offered. I just wondered if it was big enough to lie down and die. My arms were bleeding, my legs were scratched and torn, and one pesky brier had punctured the end of my nose. I finally spotted a way out and gladly left his secret merkle patch for good. When I remember these things I am almost glad that I’m not able to mushroom hunt any more.
There was a happy ending to that merkle trip, however. I bumbled around and stumbled onto a prolific patch of mushrooms that even I could see. I kept quiet as a mouse, and gathered all of them before Criss discovered the patch. I found more than he did.
In those vernal seasons of the year, when the air is calm and pleasant, it were an injury and a sullenness against Nature not to go out and see her riches, and partake in her rejoicing with heaven and earth.–Milton