Tag Archives: Spring

Sweet Ridge Spring

by Clare

Spring is finally here!

Or at least it was until it dipped by to the lower 50s. But before that could happen, our garden burst into bloom, and is now full of plum blossoms and tulips.

Photography being one of the pastimes that I enjoy, I brought out the camera and tried to convey the beauty that has thankfully come, through the lens of a camera.

I went a little off track on some of these photos and took pictures of whatever I thought was interesting, and since I thought those were pretty good too, I decided to include them.

More pictures of Wisconsin spring are still to come! Enjoy!

A Spring List

It has been hot these past couple of days in Western Wisconsin.  After an exceptionally long Winter, Spring has finally arrived!  But, because there was snow last week and now it is 80 plus degrees outside with crazy high humidity, it doesn’t feel as great as we all thought it would.  *Cut to me during track practice, panting, melting into a pool of sticky sweat*

Even as I complain about the heat, I realize how stupid it is to be whining at all.  But, oh do I have a low tolerance for heat!  Dallas this Fall is going to be quite the challenge…..

While this weather does make me want the cooler temperatures which I was just curing out last week back, here are some more positive things that this weather makes me want to do:

  • Drink gallons of the awful fruit punch in our fridge (which I would never stoop to in typical circumstances, being strictly a coffee girl).
  • Sit out under a Maple tree and smell the grass and plum blossoms for hours until I absorb the green that is now coming to life everywhere and not think about school ever, ever, ever.
  • Drag my piano out onto our wraparound deck and play Bach with the breeze to cool my flying fingers.
  • Never wear jeans again! (I hate the pesky things-shorts and skirts I can handle)
  • Go for long walks in the woods.
  • Stick my bare toes into cool creek water until they go pleasantly numb.

 

As for now, I won’t do any of those things.  I think I shall simply sit by and enjoy our late, late Spring.  Stay tuned for pictures of the Wisconsin Spring and happenings on the farm soon to come.  Clare has been out and about in the fields and has a slew of pictures for you all.

Fumes Have Risen!

by Mary

Though I am known to have a fearless attitude in many circumstances, I have taken on a new phobia: Candles at the Easter Vigil. In the days of old, they have amused me with their drippy wax that is such fun to mold while the church is a glow from soft joyful lighting of the little white sticks.
 
When Colleen was a young girl, her hair caught on fire from the candle of Clare, who was at the time just a four year old baby of the family. I can’t remember the incident too clearly, but the accident has remained a family joke of sorts every Easter.
 
Before going to the vigil the other night, I took a curling iron to my long hair and manipulated it into a mass of spiraled subservience with the help of an old can of hairspray left over from Kate’s wedding that was nearly two years ago.
 
At church I slid into the back pew next to my little brother James, and started preparing for the special mass. Somewhere along the line, I whispered to James “just don’t light my hair on fire”, and drifted into thoughts that had nothing to do with sarcastic joking.
 
Did I ever come out of this time of personal reflection, when my hair had an inch long orange blaze leaping to life compliments of James! With my hand I batted at it in terror. Thankfully, I managed to smolder the ignited section, but unfortunately, the smell of burnt hair permeated the air. Unsure of what to do next, I started finger raking charred hair out of my curls that were saturated in alcohol due to the spray. My first reaction was to cry, but I hate crying in front of people, so hysterical laughter started bubbling out of me into the silence of the congregation.
 
I ended up pushing my way out of the pew, past my brother Robert and our family friend Ben. My exit plan was to get to the bathroom. The four inch designer stilettos that I picked up at a thrift store the other month when on a shopping spree for an African Orphanage Shoe Drive, made a noisy calamity on the tiled floor as I bolted.
 
In the basement of the church I washed  the black soot from my hands and contemplated going to the choir to hide next to my mother upwind from the smell of the fried hair. Later I was informed by Colleen that plan wouldn’t be of merit, for the smoke made it’s way there too.
 
After some internal debating, I decided to take my old seat, because, after all, everybody already knew that it was my dead hair fuming up the church. The rest of mass was thankfully uneventful, save James loudly bursting out “I am an idiot”, and the dramatized coughing of a man one pew up.
 
This particular parishioner is known to rarely frequent mass. His wife and kids come without him, and his loyalty seems to be more extended to attending parish softball games.
 
My guilty conscience imagined him making future excuses to not come to church by saying ” Can’t do it honey, it’s an awful nauseating environment, my lungs just can’t hack it, the headache that I got last time round from that Slattery girl was the heap of burning hair was somethin bad…”
 
My mortification made me want to apologize to the entire group of people gathered at the Jewel On The Ridge Parish. Save James of course. I guess I will just have to rise above the occasion. Next Easter Vigil I am sure to shy away from
(a) Candles
(b) Using a crazy amount of hairspray on my hair
(c) LITTLE BROTHERS WITH CANDLES
I will make a point to take in the sweet aroma of easter lilies, incense and oils.
 
Alleluia! He has risen!
 
Until next time,
mary

Running on the Ridge

by Colleen

The weekend is coming up, and to normal people that means relaxation. To me, it means freedom from a school that I am growing less attached to with each successively boring day and running out on the Ridge. I am currently in track at my high school and although I love my running friend, Amelia, dearly, there is nothing better than a long run on the roads around home, either all alone or with Mary (I thank God that she is a runner, too!). The hills are steep and the routes may be dangerous, but I love every minute of it. I have a feeling that Ridge running will be one of the (few) things I miss most when I head out to Dallas this fall.

Here’s a little poem I composed about one of my favorite Sunday Runs recently. This was a day when Wisconsin was still mired in Winter, but a hint of Spring had appeared to tease us.

Sunday Runs

The pavement beneath my feet
is cool and dry-and clear of that wretched snow!-
as I run down the road.
The sun is shining, and
the air kisses, rather than bites, my cheeks.
And I beam bright as those sweet rays.

The road is warming
beneath this miraculous winter sun,
and the familiar smell
of musky tar and dry snow plow sand
greets me again for the first time in months.

I could go on like this forever-
just the road, my legs propelling me forward in smooth motion
and an open horizon-
polished and sparkling under a crystal sun.

My own Sunday run under winter sun.

Kindling

Kate

This morning is cold with the threat of snow, though the grass is greener after a thunderstorm last night. Hail fell from the sky rattling and clattering onto city streets and battering the rush hour traffic as I watched from the window of a cafe. It looked like a sky full of ice-hens had laid frozen eggs in the clouds and the whole eerie enchanted crop had fallen to earth. I wonder how my gambled patch of early greens fared through the hailstorm and cold snap. I take comfort in the parable of the Biblical sower, who seemed to have classic farmer style disastrous luck what with all the brambles and rocky ground and weeds choking out most of his crop. I can’t possibly do worse than that with my garden this year.

On mornings such as these it is clear that spring still has a tenuous grip upon the world. I am grateful for the radiator hissing and humming beside me, pulsating with the kind of heat that comforts the soul of a girl raised with a roaring wood stove. I remember visiting friends with forced air and baseboard heating in the midst of a Wisconsin winter and shivering, wondering where the warmth came from and why there wasn’t more of it. It gave me a strangely lonely sensation.

On the topic of parables, I have been thinking about wood stoves lately, and love, and marriage. I recently read a piece by my good friend at Little Bird Songs discussing the thrill of romance and the roaring flames of passion vs the lasting hearth fire of domesticity and marriage. I was struck by the image of the hearth fire. My parents, after 32 years of marriage and 9 children, are very much in love. I often attribute this to the fact that after marrying they moved to an old farmhouse with five foster kids, then began to produce nine children of their own. As a result they have not had a chance to tire of each other in any way, and in a sense have maintained a perpetual honeymoon delight in each others company. However, after reading about the hearth fire and considering the matter, I began to think about my mother kindling the stove. Every morning from early fall to late spring my mother, who is not a morning person, wakes up to a cold house, bundles up in a thick robe, and heads downstairs in the dark to search for the dull embers buried under the ashes of the previous night. She gathers twisted paper and dry wood and begins to carefully rebuild the fire. Sometimes the wood is wet and the house remains cold and gloomy for hours, and sometimes the fire leaps brightly almost at once, but all winter long that fire provides heat and warmth to our entire household, and every single morning it must be rebuilt.

The parable of kindling is important to me, as someone fairly newlywed, because it reminds me that it takes work to blow life into sleeping embers and sustain the fire and thrills of marriage. It also inspires me as an artist to remember that to begin again each day is essential, and also that to begin each day is possible.

Slogging Through the Mud

Mary
In early January I felt as if my life was in a state of complete disarray. My beloved V-Dub Volvo had been through an accident involving a snowy ridge road and a younger brother and was crippled for good (the younger brother was fine), I was puttering about in my friend Julian’s ancient boxy green Aerostar van, a client that I had been working with was going through a mental breakdown and was in the middle of a psychiatric hospitalization, and my dear regimented schedule was caught in a post Christmas messy hangover.

Sitting in my room one day, I decided to gather some positive power and start a spring countdown. I took printer paper and cut it into squares.  I did my calendar research and found that by day 70, I would hit spring. I numbered the stacks of paper 1-70, then I took a stack of magazines and cut out pictures of spring and summer- glossy photos of horses galloping on green pasture, butterflies, bird nests, tulips, and so forth. I glued a photo to each numbered square and taped the squares around the border of my bedroom walls. Each day I would cross off with an X the spent winter day. Yesss, death to winter!


70, 69, 68….0! Last weekend I took off each and every winter countdown square. How happy I am to shift into the goodness of the season of spring. Welcome warm winds and robins.

I am happy to report that I am now estranged from the boxy green Aerostar, and am thrilled with all things of spring including mud. Lots and lots of mud. The best sight yet has not been of green grass, but instead Dad’s friend Gary getting around  the farm in the boggy stuff.

Gary is a bit of a Job figure- a former dairy farmer who grew up on the ridge behind ours. Over the past twenty years he lost a young son to cancer, his grown kids to big cities, his marriage, and his farm. He also had a stroke and isn’t able to communicate too clearly anymore, but he can shuffle along and mumble. After years of employing all the neighborhood kids on his farm and owing all of them money, he has now become Dad’s hired hand and best man. When Dad heads out to the field, Gary is right there shuffling along beside him. He and Dad are quite the team. It is possible Dad loves working with him because he doesn’t  talk nearly as much as Dad’s children.

The other day I looked out over a vast expanse of thick ridge mud and saw Gary wading along though it. I noted that Gary had gotten a cane at last, and it really seemed to be helping his progress through the mud. Then I looked closer, and realized the cane was actually an ax. I believe his new walking aide is much more original than my spring countdown.

A Transfiguration of Sorts

Colleen

It was a blustery and cold morning, not unusual for early spring in Wisconsin. The rain fell fast and hard, aided by a strong wind upon the ridge-top, and the skies were an iron gray, creating a dark and drear atmosphere. So much rain and so much wind must have been the main factor behind the sudden power outage. At one moment I was looking up the price of airline tickets to Oklahoma and the next poof! A blank screen. I was not disturbed. Everything I really needed was in working order, namely the trusty wood stove that kicked out its comforting heat steadily.

The only problem this did present was across the road. Of course, today being Sunday, the family would be heading out to mass at the dusky, rose-red brick Catholic church right across the road from our home. I was interested to observe a mass sans electricity.

When I walked into the front doors of church, the romantic in me was immediately pleased. Candles were being lit, adorning the altar mainly and casting a mellow glow over the smooth caramel walls. I walked up the two flights stairs to the choir loft to perform my job. I’m then one and only organist for St. Peter’s Parish The power outage had made it impossible for me to play the electric organ we have, so I was relegated to the piano for the morning. This made me very happy because I am a pianist and refuse to play the organ properly on a normal Sunday. The foot pedals are always turned off, and I’ve never attempted to try to learn how to use any of the controls but on, off, loud, and soft. The old people in the parish adore me for playing the organ (I guess you were right, Mom), and I smile and nod and pretend I like it just as much as they.

I played the piano by candle light, spilling weakly over my music, and enjoyed the special air the darkness outside, counteracted by amber candle glow inside, created. The gospel was on the Transfiguration of Jesus today, and I thought it especially relevant. We were given our own transfiguration of the church today.

Darkness and light, the battle ever rages, even within the church. But, the light always triumphs: the electricity flicked on without fanfare in the middle of the Sanctus.