Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Mid-Morning, Mid-Week, Mid-Month 16 March 2016

This is a picture I took from my driveway, looking across the road to our closest neighbors. We do not have forsythia, and there is a reason for that. I will explain with a tale from my childhood at the conclusion of this middling meander.

The first quarter of 2016 will soon be but a memory, and there is a quickening here in the Appalachians of southwest Virginia. The calendar tells us that the Vernal Equinox is Sunday, March 20. Here we do not need the calendar to tell us, for the harbingers of the season have been with us for the past several days. We have had thunderstorms, and hail. There have been frequent bouts of rain, or spotty showers as the weatherpeople on the television call them. I like the term sprinkles. Sprinkles remind me of my childhood because there was a Methodist pastor at my grandparents church, Ebenezer UMC, at one time and his name always amused me. Then about 25 years later, when I lived in the Charlotte NC area, there was a weatherman on the NBC affiliate (WCNC) that was named Larry Sprinkle. Most apropos. 

The cold weather, while not completely out the door, has for the most part bid us adieu. We will have colder temperatures at least twice more in the weeks ahead. The Easter snap, as PawPaw called it - which is a coldspell right before Easter, is forecast to arrive this coming weekend. Once again the mercury will dip to near the freezing point, and there may even be a few stubborn snowflakes fly. In May Blackberry Winter arrives, just after Mother's Day and prior to Memorial Day. 

Potatoes are traditionally planted on Good Friday (25 March this year) and I have already seen ground turned and fencing repairs on the small and large farms here. Trees are starting to bud, early bulbs have bloomed, and birds are calling up the sun in the wee hours out along the creek. The inside cats run from living room to kitchen and back again, meeping at the birds. Then when the skies darken and the rain starts they run and hide because the storms, even mild ones, frighten them. As I drive across the the mountain to town I am extra cautious. Early morning fogs have returned, and there are critters about early and often. 

My family moved to 400 Virginia Avenue in Richlands, Virginia, in February of 1967. I was not yet 9 years old. My mother still lives in that house, and I suppose that it will always be home in a way that no other place could be. While I have scattered memories of the cabin that saw me into the world, the Myer house that welcomed brother Ed, and the house on E 1st Street that was too close to the Clinch River to suit Momma, the house on Virginia Avenue is where I grew up. The home that I returned to multiple times as I struggled to make my way into life, like a fledgling bird that keeps returning to the nest. I can still climb the steps to my old upstairs bedroom and miss every squeaky spot. 

And that blasted forsythia bush is still in the corner of the front yard, right by the sidewalk and fire hydrant. That bush I hated with a passion, because it was the switch bush. The place we were dispatched to for the instruments of our discipline. The bush that I tried to kill repeatedly and grew to hate more each year. If you cut them to the ground they grow back bushier and healthier. They bloom and green and block the sidewalk. They harbor yellowjackets and blacksnakes. They will not die, even when crashed into by bicycles and fell into by random inebriated men stumbling their way home in the wee hours. They scratch your arms and hands when you prune them back, and they hurt like the dickens when your legs are switched with their branches. 

That, people, that is why I may admire their announcement annually of the quickening of the season but only from afar. That is why you will (hopefully) never see forsythia blooming in my yard. 

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