With weather predictions of temperatures in the 40s (at least while the sun shines) this week, it looks like we will finally get a break from the winter weather. And today is the beginning of an extra hour of light at the end of the day, so that will help with lengthening the daytime hours. The Amish call this "fast" time. When I was growing up, not everyone turned their clocks ahead. They "had slow time."
The other day I realized how much I've posted about winter weather, and so today I will share some spring and summer memories of my childhood. Perhaps if I evoke some of these memories, they will help me imagine warmth and spring.
I loved swings when I was a little girl. The first one in my memory was a rope swing, hanging from one of the tall branches of a tree next to the woodshed. If I remember correctly, it was an oak tree. We had a board with notches in it for the ropes on either side that we would sit on. Because the swing was hanging from such a high branch, it was hard to get up momentum by myself. But when my sister Lizzie used to push me, I really took a ride. The thrill of hearing the wind rushing past my ears and as I swung higher than the woodshed roof, gave me butterflies in my tummy. I would call to Lizzie, "Higher! Higher!" until she couldn't reach me any longer. Sometimes it was so thrilling that my arms felt weak and I had to remind myself to "hold on tight" as Mem used to tell us to do.
Photo used by permission from Katie Troyer
Lizzie would soon declare it was her turn. I could only push her a little bit. She was bigger and stronger, so once she got started, she could get the swing going high by pumping her legs.
I was still quite young when that swing wore out. It was determined that it was no longer safe because the rope was getting brittle. By then I was going to Kindergarten, enjoying the swings at school. That was just one of the activities I enjoyed on the playground. I loved the slide, the merry-go-round, and skipping rope with my friends. The small public school I attended had a black-topped playground, surrrounded by grassy fields that would turn yellow when the dandelions bloomed in the spring. Spring is the season I remember most from my days attending this school, until an Amish school was built in our area.
I remember how thrilling it was to go barefoot for the first time in the spring and feel the new grass tickling the bottom of my feet. This was usually around the same time that we started to plant the garden.
One year, we got a seventy-degree day in late March or early April. I wanted to go barefoot, and Mem told me the ground was still too cold. She warned me that I could get sick if I pushed it. She did not forbid me to go barefoot, though. I didn't think I would get sick, so I ran around barefoot for a while. Then I realized Mem was right, my feet were cold. So I put my shoes and socks back on.
The next day, I started feeling my throat getting scratchy. I was usually pretty healthy, even when other people around me were sick. But this time I got so sick, I was in bed for days with all the symptoms of the flu, including a fever that made me delirious. When Mem was taking care of me, she muttered something about me learning my lesson and that "mother knows best." I was too sick to absorb the lesson.
I will not be going barefoot at the end of this month, that I know for sure. But just maybe, I will see the sap buckets hanging from the maple trees around town, as the local farmers tap the trees to make maple syrup. That is always the first sign of spring, at least where I come from.