It was a long cold winter --- one snow storm after another blanketed the landscape. Ice storms coated everything with a glaze of ice. Snow drifts had to be cleared before we could reach the barn to do the morning chores. Water pipes froze and the old furnace and cook stove gobbled up great piles of wood and coal. Frost glazed the kitchen windows as Grandma cooked big pots of soup and stews to warm our insides. Slowly, the sun rose a little earlier each day, the March winds blew from the south, and I realized --- it was spring again!
As the sun rose higher and higher each passing day, the snow disappeared and the fields grew green again. The robins returned and quarreled over nesting sites, the squirrels recovered the nuts they had buried last fall and the blue jays screeched their protests in the treetops. The jonquils and crocus put forth their colorful finery and the apple trees burst into life with their fragrance --- it was spring again!
My Shetland pony shed his thick winter coat in great handfuls as I curried him in the warm sunlight. Grandpa cleared the last year's debris from the garden spot and Grandma pored over seed catalogues and visualized what she would like for her garden to look like in the coming months. Over night, there appeared newborn calves, pigs and lambs, all frolicking in the barn yard. The days grew longer and the earth warmed to start new life --- it was spring again!
I was itching, both figuratively and literally, to get out of my "long Johns" and into summer clothes. I was also wanting to shed my shoes, but Grandma convinced me to wait a few weeks longer. As the summer winds blew in from the south, my friends and I were often found following the little brook that tumbled down from the hills. We relished the freedom we had, and shed our shoes and socks to chase the schools of minnows into shallow water where we could capture some for bait. Our days were carefree and happy --- it was spring again!
As thunderstorms boomed across the prairie, we ran for the shelter of the old barn and lay on the hay in the big open door and watched as lightning shredded a willow tree nearby. When the rain stopped, we splashed through the puddles, splattering each other with muddy water. As the life-giving rain soaked the earth, little plants peeked through and grew inches each warm day.
Grandpa hitched up the old bay mare, and we rode to town and collected big boxes of chirping baby chickens and ducks from the post office. It was fun to caress the little golden fluffs, as I shooed them under the kerosene brooder stove. Eager bees, from their hive nearby, were busy collecting nectar from the early flowers. And then I was sure --- it was spring again!
On Easter Sunday morning, the distant church bells beckoned us to the little country church to sing our favorite hymns and listen to the country preacher tell us again of the resurrection and our place in humanity. Later that afternoon, my friends and I disappeared into the hills and woods to discover a wet-weather spring and to drink the cold clear water to quench our thirst, generated from the trek across the prairie. We found a cluster of Easter lilies blooming in profusion at an abandoned farmstead, and wondered at the beauty of nature. We relished the company of each other, and we all agreed --- it was spring again!
Though the years dim many memories, the thoughts of another springtime are vivid and strong. As old age creeps closer each year, it may become difficult to remember where we put our glasses or what we ate at our last meal, but the thoughts from past years remain as clear as the water in the little stream we waded in. As the juices that fuel the mind and body flow strongly, we pause to give thanks for what we have and for what we can do.
Most of all we are thankful --- its spring again!