Spring is sign of new life and renewed hope!

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April 25, 2007


Correction: In my last column I wrote that the Shiites were a minority in Iraq. In fact, the Sunnis are the manority even though they had power and control of Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Now for this month’s column.

            We are fortunate to live in the northern part of the world where the seasons are distinct from one another. Sure, the time between them is pretty messy sometimes, but we know when it is spring, summer, fall, and winter. Spring brings new life to the planet after a season of dormancy. One of the first signs of growth are the containers attached to maple trees to harvest some of the sap going up to the crown of the tree in preparation for the bursting forth of new green leaves.

            This sign of spring is always nostalgic for me as my family made maple syrup every spring for many yearsbe beginning in the 1940’s with  a large open pan on a concrete block foundation in the middle of the maple grove. In later years the process was modernized with a building and evavorator. This ended when the United States government bought the farm to be part of the  Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in 1979.  For me the first run of maple sap makes the finest sweet maple nectar one can fine anywhere. Not everyone like that first run nor do all firs runs turn out that way. I found one this year from a local producer that took me back many years.

            Another sign of spring is the breaking forth through the ground little green shoots that form the first blossoms. They portend a bright future coming soon. First appear the crocuses and grape hyacinths, then the daffodils, and tulips. Soon follow the bright yellow forsythia bushes  and flowering trees of all kinds sending the wonderful fragrance all around the neighborhood. By then all kinds of growth is appearing everywhere. Lawns take on their spring greenery. The deciduous trees are bursting forth with their green lieaves in stark contrast to the dirty gray of the last days of winter.

            Animals too show new life. Those that were in hibernation or semi-seclusion over the cold winter appear in our yards soon followed by young ones. Squirrels, rabbits, opossum, and yes skunks make their way around the area.

            Birds literally announce the arrival of spring with their constant twittering and cooing and chirping sometimes at all too early hours of the day. Soon we see them building nests in our trees and flower pots. We had one in our hanging basket on the porch one year and I could see them develop. One day they were all gone.

            In Midland we have the added sign of spring at Dow Gardens with the Butterflies in Bloom living display. It is a joy to see the many varieties of butterflies. They are a special reminder of new life with their metamorphases from larva to pupa to chrysalis to butterfly.

            There is a special spirit and joy whenever a human baby is born, but it seems there is an added joy when the baby is born in the spring. It adds to the new life flourishing all around us.

            Late spring and summer of course lead to weddings, graduations, and many outdoor activities. All these are signs of new life. The Christian commemoration of the new life of Jesus on Easter Sunday and continuing for forty days is enhanced by these new signs of life all around us..

            With all of these attention getters it is easy to have a smile on my face and to look to the future with renewed hope. It will be good to sit out on the front porch many days like the one on March 26 soaking up the rays and reading or llistening to music. I;m jumping the season a little, but it reminds me of the popular Nat King Cole song about the ‘lazy crazy hazy days of summer” which will soon follow.

            Life is good. Enjoy the moment. Let go of the past and don’t worry about the future. See the new day with renewed hope regardless of the troubles facing you. You will be surprised at the difference it makes in your life and in the lives of those around you.  That’s what I am trying to do all the time.