The first day of spring arrived with dark clouds and a mizzling rain that dampened the earth and our spirits as well. The very first thing that I did when I started breakfast was to spill a pint of bacon grease all over the top of the kitchen stove. A roll of paper towels later, I was ready to start my day’s work.
Just now, when we are about ready to give up on March, clouds are drifting away and blue sky appears. Sunshine is beaming down upon our hills, and it makes the spirits lighter and hearts happy. March is such an unpredictable month. Cousin Bobby’s mother used to quote an old lady (who evidently didn’t care much for the month of March) who would say, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like the devil!”
It is true that we have snow in the forecast, perhaps a measureable amount, and mixed snow and rain later. But . . . spring will come! As Mom used to say, it always has! Buds are swelling on the lilac bush, and Easter flowers and crocuses are blooming. They may be peeping through the snow in a day or so, but they will still bravely show their faces.
I used to love to rake and clean the yard when springtime came with warm breezes—to rake the old leaves and dry grass away; to see the tender new grass almost breathe and stretch. Grandma O’Dell used to maintain that it was bad luck to rake your yard before Easter. I think that some folks think it’s bad luck to do it any time! The warm sun sends its rays beaming down through the soil to the still sleeping violets, the phlox and the trilliums, to call them forth. Spring is such an “alive” time of the year. No matter how many springs that you have experienced, there is still a thrill in seeing the old dead earth come to life once again.
Daughter Patty says she head spring peepers weeks ago during a warm spell, but I have yet to hear them. They must have buried back down in the soft mud of the pond to wait for a warmer day. When we hear their shrill piping again, perhaps we will know that spring truly is here.
This is a good time now to clean outbuildings, before we get into the serious business of spring-cleaning our houses. There is nothing that can test a husband-wife relationship like sorting junk from treasure. Criss vows and declares that it is the boys who jam our buildings full of junk, but a lot of things he had accumulated before the boys could walk. Patty gets most of the blame now, as she collects “stuff”—mostly household furniture.
I walk in the shop and shake my head hopelessly at the mess. There are some big chunks of wood that have been stored in the rafters for years. “Why don’t you throw that old wood away?” I ask him. “That’s hammer handles” he replies in an outraged tone of voice. Grandpa O’Dell, with his penchant for squirreling away every tag and scrap, would have loved Criss. I kept Kevin’s pogo stick hanging on the shop wall for years, but it has disappeared. I can see him now hopping away like a demented little rabbit, but his six foot four inch length would look funny on it now.
I have retained some childhood possessions for all six of my children, and to me it’s not junk, but priceless memories. To someone else it may seem silly, and that is what makes cleanup time so interesting around here. (We usually compromise and keep it all.)
One of spring’s dearest offerings was our annual camping trip to William’s River. We would plan to go during Spring Break, when the children would be off from school. Some years it would cold and rainy, or cold and snowy, but we went anyway. Some years we woke up to our tent, campsite and surroundings all covered with snow, but other years it would be warm and delightful. I am not able to go any more, but I have the warm memories that are dear to my heart.
Criss is making preparations to plow the garden, getting ready for spring planting. I love to watch the plow slice cleanly through the soil, leaving the long curl of rich earth upturned behind. The plowing goes on and on, burying deep underground the accumulated debris of last year. The dead, dry leaves, the remnants of last year’s garden, the stubble, all disappear under the cutting edge of the plow, forming the foundation for this year’s crop. I think of how God performs this work in our own hearts, through the cutting edge of His Sword. If we will bring our old disappointments, our heartaches and burdens to Him, He will plow them under and form a base for a more caring, concerned heart.
Out of our own troubles and heartaches will come a deeper compassion and a greater love for others. Sometimes out of the depth of our burdens, we cry, “Why me, Lord?” The answer comes clearer as the days go by. God has given us the gift of salvation, not only that we might enjoy it ourselves, but that we might help others. In 2nd Cor. 1:3-4 we read, Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort: Who comforteth us in all our tribulation; that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted by God.”
WRITTEN IN MARCH
By William Wordsworth
The cock is crowing,
The stream is flowing,
The small birds twitter,
The lake doth glitter
The green field sleeps in the sun;
The oldest and youngest
Are at work with the strongest;
The cattle are grazing,
Their heads never raising;
There are forty feeding like one!
Like an army defeated
The snow hath retreated,
And now doth fare ill
On the top of the bare hill;
The plowboy is whooping—anon-anon:
There’s joy in the mountains;
There’s life in the fountains;
Small clouds are sailing,
Blue sky prevailing;
The rain is over and gone!
Enjoy the springtime—it’s great to be alive!