The robins are back…..and with them some much needed spring music!
I saw my first robin today! For me, that is the first sign of spring, and this year, we are all looking for anything spring-like. This unending winter we are experiencing in the Northeast and throughout much of the country will just not give up, and has all of us a little down at this stage, even those of us who like winter. Enough is enough.
It is the first week of March already and the 10-day extended forecast still has snow coming and a nor’easter coming and snow showers coming and cold coming. Yesterday was a tease, when the temps moved closer to the 50s and all of a sudden all one needed was a light sweater to go outside instead of the winter coats and long scarves that lately wrapped our heads and throats. One of our granddaughters, aged 3, was over for a visit yesterday with her mom and dad and aunt and friend, and she was a pure bundle of energy, skipping and hopping all around, looking at the goats and playing with the dogs, and trying to figure out where the ducks had gone, and even checking the chickens for eggs. Oh, if we could but bottle that energy! Children are sometimes oblivious to weather. They are too busy exploring! As soon as we get a few more of those 50 degree days, it will be “outdoor spring cleaning” in earnest. The goat sheds are almost crying to be aired out and scrubbed out before the spring kidding season.
Along with the robins has also come spring music. Even when it was so cold, every morning, one could go outdoors and hear the birds singing. You couldn’t always see them, for most of the time they were hiding, trying to keep warm, too, but their music was in the air. The huge rhododendron in the front of our home and the towering cypress near the potting shed building in the back of the house are chock full of chirping and chattering as our feathered friends return from all points south from wherever they have been to return to stake out some space for laying those spring eggs and welcoming new baby birds into our midst.
Another sure sign of spring, Bill would tell me is that the Red Sox are now playing their exhibition games, and last night we turned our clocks ahead. Daylight savings time has arrived! And while we may have been a little groggier than usual this morning, having lost an hour of sleep, the extended daylight hours tonight, I’m sure, will have us all dreaming of cook-outs and warmer weather to come. Daylight savings time is usually a sign for all things sports related to get going, too, so it won’t be long now before the softball and soccer ball schedules start including outdoor games.
On our parish front, this is also our Lenten season, which is late this year. Easter will not be here until April 20th. The word, Lent, itself, simply means “spring” and it, too is a time for spring cleaning. It is one of my favorite liturgical seasons of the year, for it gives us all an excuse to “dig a little deeper” to explore our relationship with our divine Creator. What do we need to clean up on our lives? Do we need to set more time aside to pray? Have we been to confession lately? What does the state of our soul look like? How are we treating each other? especially our family members? What are we doing for the poor in our midst? We have a great pope right now, who is a living example of how to blend love of God with love of the poor.
In our particular parish, we are venturing into some uncharted musical waters this spring. We will be beginning some prayer services that grew out of a monastic tradition in Taize’, France. Blending chant, music, Scripture, periods of silent prayer, a play on lights and emphasis on the Holy Spirit, Taize’ has become in the last 60 years or so a world-wide ecumenical movement of contemplative prayer that appeals especially to the young, and to those with a spring heart. In addition to the Taize’, our choir is also venturing into new territory: we are cutting a CD of our own music to be marketed solely for the purpose of helping seniors and those in need on our community pay for their medical co-pays if they cannot afford them.
It is a way to blend our prayer life with our care for the poor and our love of music. I have a feeling we are going to have a wonderful Easter!! Happy spring, everyone!!
Hearts, flowers, yet ANOTHER snowstorm, 45 years and counting…..
This has been one crazy winter in the Northeast and perhaps for most of the country. In New England, sometimes we can see almost a whole winter with no snow at all, while other winters we have snowstorms every 2-3 days. This year is the latter. Everyone is ready to yell “uncle” and asking God to please make it stop. We’re due to chalk up another foot between tonight and tomorrow and if the snow gets much higher in spots, the goats can simply walk over their fences.
Every snowstorm means shovel out those fences and make sure one can open the gates to get the feed, hay and water to the animals. On the other hand, Sophie and Jeremiah, our two Great While Pyrenees, think this stuff is great! They roll around in it, slide down the hill, jump on top of each other and are just like two little kids (or should I say two huge kids) playing outdoors on a free school day or snow day. Our indoor dogs are split on their opinion. Joey, our English setter, thinks it’s great and takes a running leap right over Watson so he can go bounding around the yard. Watson, on the other hand, takes one cautious step onto the outdoor step, looks around, puts his front two feet down, then backtracks to the step, piddles on the step and wants back in the house. He’s a bit of a wimp.
This is also Valentine’s Day (weekend). Funny, how when those holidays get anywhere near a weekend, the whole weekend takes on a celebratory tone.
The poor florists nationwide, it seems, are having a terrible time delivering those pretty bouquets as they climb snow bank after snow bank and go slipping and sliding down sidewalks to get to their delivery destinations. Dinner plans are being cancelled left and right, and I’m sure the restaurants are not too happy either. It’s a funny kind of holiday. No one commemorates the life of St. Valentine, though I have heard mention of the St. Valentine’s massacre as somehow connected (bizarre!). St. Valentine was actually a Christian martyr, and at work in the copy room yesterday, there was actually a picture of him, holding his severed head and greeting a couple of Valentine sweethearts as they ate their special dinner in some fancy restaurant.
He was known to have helped the poor in many ways, including giving dowries to young maidens so they could marry, so that is probably the romantic connection, but the holiday has certainly morphed into something quite different than being concerned about the poor. It’s kind of a frivolous, fun holiday for spending time with your special Valentine and enjoying beautiful flowers and chocolates and a little decadence, often before the season of Lent settles in. Bill and I never really celebrated February 14th; we waited until everything was on sale the next day, February 15th when you could buy those chocolates for 50% off, for February 15th was special to us. We met on a blind date on February 15th, 45 years ago today! I was working for an insurance company in Chicago in their computer department and one of our programmers (we had those back then) had just ordered a new rug for his apartment. He and his wife knew this friend of theirs from their Army days who was currently a poor struggling dental student, who going to help them lay the rug, and I had just found this great bottle of wine, so of course we needed to be introduced. The rug never showed, but we had the party anyway. For me, it was sort of love at first sight….we talked the night away, started dating, and boom, we were engaged four months later! We saved our rubles, for we were poor back then, and wanted a nice wedding, so we were engaged for another year, but Bill and I have had a wonderful life together thus far and are looking forward to what God has yet in store for us! We just heard the restaurant we were going to go to this evening has just cancelled our reservations though and is closing up shop, because of the storm, so we will have to celebrate other ways this evening.
Do I hear a wine cork popping?
If spring ever gets here, I have a feeling it is going to be a muddy one, with all the snow we’ve had this winter, but snow is that “poor man’s fertilizer,” so that said, maybe we are in for a wonderful growing season this year. We certainly hope so! Happy Valentine’s Day, one and all!