Sign outside a local church: “It takes three Springs to make a Leap!” ---- a clever observation since the 29th (Leap Year Day) is Saturday, and February ends! I am definitely one of those optimistic people who prefer to think, when we get a mild winter day that it is a harbinger of spring ----even though I know better! There was one year, back in the 1980s when spring did actually come at the end of February. So I keep hoping……………☺….that it will happen again. And I look forward to March because even though winter generally blasts us a few times more, March allows us to think spring with some hope. And Daylight Savings Time begins!
Amazingly, I have some of my garden orders in. Usually, I procrastinate until nearly time to dig the garden --- and then I find that too many things I’ve pined for have sold out. So this year I decided to be efficient and early ---- and nothing at all was out of stock in February. That means I will have my pots overflowing with Parma violets, heliotrope and can plant my own hanging basket of fuchsias which will bloom longer than those forced to bloom for Mother’s Day. And----- although I can’t order this commodity ---- I’m hoping for oodles of energy this summer along with the seed packets and potted plants.
Another task that I’ve finally faced is the sorting and storage of piles of fabric. I have a little tile that says: “She who dies with the most fabric, WINS!” That isn’t quite as amusing as it was 30 years ago, so I’ve decided to see what fabrics others could use. Of course there are some pieces that I simply can’t give up. Fabric, to me, is much like art. I enjoy just looking at the design and feeling the texture. And if I were to give it all away, it would mean that a) I had given up on sewing completely and b) a month later, I’d probably need just the things I had given away. So I still will have a stash --- but a much smaller one, no longer spilling from the shelves in the toy room.
I do have another collection that keeps growing. Since our local NPR has given up classical and other music, I’ve collected CDs to fill my listening hours. Of course, for participation, there is the church choir. Life gets even better when the sextet in which I sing, begins actively rehearsing. Spencer Singers has been part of our lives since 1980. We’ve harmonized together here at the Grange, in the Spokane Opera House, on several stages for concerts, in nursing homes for residents, at family funerals and one wedding. Now that five out of the six of us are in our sixties and seventies, we do have some troubles with voice issues ---- frequent “frogs” in the throat and sinus drainage tend to create some interesting vocal sounds – or sometimes no sound at all. It’s disconcerting to open one’s mouth and have no sound emerge except an off-tune squeak or raspy croak. Then too, we find ourselves shorter of breath than we’d like, so that staggered breathing has become a reality. But we still have a very good time and my spirits are always lifted when we make music together.
We happen to reside in a small rural community with much musical talent. (Actually we have a fairly high number of artists of all kinds!) We have among us, a composer who creates praise choruses for our church, and also has done some wonderful things for locally-written musicales --- “Chicks ‘n’ Pits”, “A Whale of a Tale” and “The Fairy Tale” to name a few. There have been, over the years, several different singing groups available. Always there are instrumental musicians who will gather to play for something special, and our church organist (and baritone in Spencer Singers) is among the very best. The S-VE school music programs are stellar. So we are blessed!
I think back to my high school music opportunities; we had a couple of very fine teachers --- Betty Kocher for the orchestra and Kathy Hanlon for vocal music. They made learning about music fun even while they expected quality performance. Just the bus rides to All-State and other music festivals were worth all that practice time. There was a lot of laughter, singing and camaraderie. Our instrumental trio of oboe, clarinet and flute was great fun too even though we were only famous locally. Research provides evidence that kids who participate in music learn other things better too and that music is closely related to math skills (who knew???). Perhaps, as this awareness percolates down through our culture, more parents will feel encouraged to initiate kids’ participation in some kind of musical discipline. It is one of those learning experiences that can benefit one for a life time.
Lent, which began yesterday is another indication that the season is changing. Ash Wednesday heralds a time (for some) of quiet contemplation before the joys of Easter. Our community churches offer ecumenical services every Wednesday for this period. The Tuesday just past is designated “Doughnut/Pancake Day,” “Fat Tuesday” or “Mardi Gras”. For those who followed the church calendar, it would be the last day for indulging in meat and other goodies. Lent was a time of sacrifice and austerity. Today fewer people pay attention to this practice but there is still some conversation around what one might be “giving up for Lent”. I simply find the days of Lent to be a positive reminder to be less busy and more thoughtful of the world within me and around me ---- more grateful for all the things that come together in my life.
And on that note of gratitude ---- I just got formal notice of my 60th high school class reunion, coming up in June. Sixty Years!!!That sounds as though I ---and my classmates ---- must be creaky with age. A combination of medical advances, exercise like Bone-Builders, a change in cultural expectations and a determination to enjoy life have combined to save us from being too immobile or set in our ancient ways. If any of us were asked, it would be clear that even at our advanced ages, we are wondering what to wear; still hoping to look our best when meeting our former classmates, but at the same time, age has given us the wisdom to be more concerned with what people are doing to stay interested and happy than in how anyone looks. One of the questions on the registration form is:”What do you remember about school in Victor?” My memories are varied, vivid and swirl around as though in a kaleidoscope. Organizing them into thoughts and words will take some mulling!
It is lovely that this event will also coincide with the annual Alumni banquet. I haven’t gone to one of those since I graduated in 1960. I hope it is well-attended; I think it will be fun to catch up with those who went to VCS other than those in my class. I’m truly looking forward to all the possibilities in the next few months; increased bird song, daffodils, Easter, reunions and picnics.
Nor am I the only creature who is thinking early spring. The tom turkeys wandering through our back yard and, always optimistic, are showing off already. Three of them (might turkeys have Three Musketeers?) stood together fanning their tails and puffing out all of their many bronze, green, blue and tan feathers. Meanwhile, the lady-hens who are supposed to be impressed ignored them completely and kept right on pecking away at the sunflower seeds. There also have been flocks of black birds on our lawn and on the quickly-vanishing suet blocks. They too are early heralds of spring.
As February wanes, there is something about the light, as it slants toward the Vernal Equinox. I find it hard to describe; there’s a shimmer and glow that isn’t there during the cold months. Aristotle* said: “In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” It may be difficult to put into words, but there’s a feeling and an occasional glimpse of something different; something magic ---- and we know that life is stirring toward spring. The peepers will emerge from the masses of eggs, the skunk cabbage will poke up from the chilly mud beside streams and bird songs will expand and grow. And all of this will happen suddenly. “Get ready; a Light is about to go off. See and experience all its luminosity.”**
Carol may be reached at: email@example.com.
*Aristotle –Greek scholar and philosopher during the Classical Period. Was a student of Plato. Developed western thinking.
**Alexandra Stoddard- American --- Author of eleven books. Home decorator and life-style guru.