Impatiently, I wait, scanning the skyline for the first hint of spring. A faint blush of color in the redbuds. A timid crocus. The first swoop of a barnswallow’s wing.
Spring is elusive. Fleeting. Like a mirage, springtime will soon disappear on the horizon of a long, hot summer. Nothing but a vanishing memory.
At our house, good memories aren’t just cherished…they’re hoarded. Old vacations are boxed, bagged, and bottled. Dried cactus. The cremated ashes of Mount St. Helens. Shells and pebbles from far-flung beaches. The Pacific Ocean, itself, is stored in my cassette recorder. It comes to life at the push of a button.
But springtime. How do you store up spring? It can’t be dried, canned or boxed. Spring has few mementos and no cremated ashes. It is life in full motion.
Singing katydids. Restless geese. Baby goats frolicking in the new grass, dancing sideways in the sunshine. Children splashing in Beddow Creek, searching out petrified relics and arrowheads. Souvenirs of what used to be. Many springtimes have come and gone, quickly fading to Indian summer. A thousand sunrises have melted into sunsets. How do you hold on to such things and make them last?
If only the essence of this season could be bottled—like icy spring water—to be sipped and savored during the blazing days of August. A sweet elixir—filled with fragrance, sights, and sounds….
Around me, the Barada Hills pulsate with life. Badgers and bugs and bumblebees. In yonder field, a farmer inspects his fences and terraces, contemplating the season just ahead. The familiar throb of a John Deere drifts to me on the breeze and I’m swiftly transported to childhood days….
My Grandpa…he’s astraddle the Johnny Popper, lurching through the barnyard—heading for a newly plowed cornfield. Each huff of the tractor is accompanied by a puff from Grandpa’s pipe. Sweet tobacco smoke and tractor fumes ride the spring breezes.
Inside the farmhouse, my Granny kneads her dough fiercely, pursuing vagrant air-pockets. And me? Where am I? Out in the garden, digging my naked toes into the dirt, awaiting a call from the kitchen to sample Granny’s bread.
The barnyard is full of commotion. Fresh kittens wander about, awaiting the evening milking. Beyond the cool, mysterious milk house are the cows…tails flicking, tongues licking—caressing their salt block. Eyes half-closed, they laze in the sun, soaking springtime into their ratty, winter fur.
Spring sunshine. It transforms everything. Soon, the drabness of winter will fall away as springtime combs out the dross. It happens year after year, generation after generation. Mysterious, yet sure, it holds me spellbound.
I wait expectantly, now—determined to embrace every memory of spring, every glint of sun on a hummingbird’s wing. The scent of Juneberry blossoms. The earthy smell of Morels.
Maybe I can’t store up spring in a bottle, nor hoard its cremated remains… But I can add more pages to my memory. I can savor every breeze, every glimpse, every sound—enfolding them into my mind. There they remain—beloved passages hidden away in the yellowing pages of my life.
When this spring has passed, my memory book will be filled with fresh entries. Bike rides at dawn. Twilight meanderings. Evenings spent on the Missouri, watching a milky moon pour itself into the river. Springtime will fill my senses and permeate my pores. Because I have prepared.
Springtime hoarding…? It has only begun.