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Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017

The miracles of spring: Breathing deep the colors and smells of earth

Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2012, at 11:09 AM

It is now, according to the weather and my calendar, my favorite season on the farm -- spring.

I've always thought the farm was a dreary place in the winter. In a city landscape, the changes of winter are less noticable. With the exception of snowy days, the wide open landscape of the country draws a gray, brown and lifeless picture.

But in spring -- especially this spring -- the painter of nature seemed to brighten my view overnight.

The Bradford pears and redbuds broke through the pallet of grays first. I can still remember my mother-in-law pointing out the redbuds in the woods around our house. To this day, I try to remember and recapture the joy in her voice as spring first breaks the grasp of a cold, long winter.

In a winter like this one, it is easy to forget what it could have been like in Missouri. (Remember last year?) But there were a few bitterly cold days, at least enough to appreciate the warm sun shining on my back today.

Even before the weather breaks, one of the first signs of spring on the farm are baby calves. I can never get enough of seeing the newborns, tails high in the air, running as fast as they can as I drive or walk by the newly greening pastures. Watching a newborn calf struggle on its wobbly feet for the first time is one of those joys I wish everyone could see at least once. As it quickly and instinctively finds its way to its first meal, there is no doubt the miracle of nature.

Each spring, grass seems to green up overnight. The green of the spring's first strands of grass is one only found in nature. I don't believe the unique color can ever been fully captured on canvas or a photograph.

As the days turn longer and the fields eventually dry after spring rains, one of my next favorite parts of spring is the smell of freshly tilled dirt. In fact, I like it so much, I really look forward to getting my hands dirty, planting flowers and vegetable seeds.

As the trees start to bud out, so do many weeds. Please don't tell my husband, but another beautiful sign of spring to me is the purple carpet of a blooming winter annual on a farmer's stalk field.

However, as the tilling increases along with the temperatures, the carpet of flowering weeds turns to brown earth, before popping up as spiked corn rows. As the corn reaches knee high, it too, changes to a dark, green hue only found in nature.

Before spring ends, I am reminded again of another of God's miracles -- one I wouldn't have known had I not come to the farm. Every year I am in awe as soybeans in the field and greenbeans in my garden push their own seed out of the ground, before splitting to become leaves and eventually a plant.

Other sure signs of spring are the birds, including the hummingbirds, which will soon swarm my feeders. Even the gruffest of farmers in my family takes time each morning to enjoy the miracle of the tiny, busy birds, fighting each other for the sweet, red nectar.

Although, they might deny their youthful enthusiasm now, some of my favorite spring memories involved hunting for baby kittens with two extremely excited sons. A farm cat about to give birth is only slightly more obvious than one who already has tucked her newborns away in a barn.

It's an Easter egg hunt of sorts, complete with flashlights, ladders and shushed little boys to find where a new mama stashed her kittens.

The combine, a tractor tire, a tiny space between two barn walls or a loft high in the rafters were just some the various places we would find the tiny helpless, fur balls in a variety of colors.

Each year I find myself wanting to hurry nature, so I can experience those colors, sounds and smells only spring in the country can bring. But I need to remember to slow down, take time to drink in the sites and enjoy nature's renewal.

It will turn to summer all too quickly.

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