I have always considered myself lucky to have been born to a mother who was smart as well as wise.
She would often come up with some little nugget of wisdom that would stick in our mind. She planned it that way. I remember that she would say, “We live in God’s country!”
Now, she loved the United States and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, but she was speaking more specifically. She meant this little area between the mountains (O.K., hills — but I call them mountains.)
She explained how the mountains deterred so many of the storms that seem headed right for us. We would hunker down and wait. Usually, what we received was less than what had been predicted, less than we had feared.
It wasn’t only the protection that she referred to, but also the nutrients that had been washed from the hillsides onto our waiting garden plots, giving us this rich soil, waiting to turn our seeds into delicious meals — with a little help from Mother.
I also lived in Illinois for a while and I loved it there. The broadness of the sky, the incredible sunsets that seemed to stretch on and on. I thought I might live there forever. But I missed the mountains. Having always been so present, they seemed to be a part of my family. Eventually, I moved back home.
I still have family in Illinois. We communicate regularly, so it seems that part of me is still there.
Farmers, they were! But time moves on and the world changes and life changes with it. The younger generations move into other jobs, and the fields are plowed and planted and cared for by others.
It takes an awful lot of acreage to make a paying farm, and there is more to farming than simply plowing and planting. There is watching the calendar and watching the weather and watching the stock market. There is, knowing when to plant, when to harvest and knowing when to sell.
But there is more to watch for in those broad open fields, than corn and soybeans. This time of year, the birds are starting to move north. They’ve had their vacation and they are heading home.
If come from a family of birdwatchers, you soon realize that birds, with their little, high-powered brains, remember.
I can just hear one of them say (in bird language), “Hey Joe, Isn’t this where we got all that lovely corn (or soybeans), last year?” If so, they settle in.
Now, snow geese are white (of course), and so are some species of cranes. So, when everything is covered with snow, it is hard to tell the difference between geese and cranes. If, indeed, there are cranes.
From the road, it is hard to tell what makes up that huge gathering of birds. It might be necessary to simply drive off the road and into the snow-covered field to see them fly. As my family reports that they have done, just yesterday.
Primarily white, they were snow geese and snow cranes and sandhill cranes and, of course, Canada geese. The trouble with Canada geese is that they tend to stay on, and you can imagine how they enjoy the corn and soybeans.
Yes, they have snow out there and we have not, but nevertheless, spring will come to us all.
In the words of Charles Swinburne: We rejoice, as we quote them!
“Time remembered is grief forgotten, And frosts are slain and flowers begotten, And in green underwood and cover Blossom by blossom the Spring begins!”
Loretta Nazelrod Brown is a Cumberland freelance writer. Her column appears in the Times-News on alternate Sundays.