Spring, Smelts and Warm Again

the oneSpring has come at last to Greenwood Center. Twitchell Pond is slowly releasing its grip on the ice and each day more water appears at the edges. The first snow to go in our yard is on the bank of the brook and how wonderful it is to feel the crisp, brown grass under my sneakers. I walk as close to the brook as possible, lean over and break off a bunch of pussy willows. Ma will say this is a sure sign that spring is here at last!  I love the velvety touch of them and put them in a canning jar for the table. Ma always moves them to the window sill because our table is so small and there are six of us after all!!

Robins always make a nest under the eaves of Gram’s shed. She pointed it out to me the other day and said she likes to keep track of the little birds as they hatch, grow and especially the day they take their first flight. She says there is always one little bird that the mother robin has to coax out of the nest!

Another sure sign of spring is the smelting season. Dad likes to get his net and bucket ready and each night he takes a flashlight and goes across the road to see if they have started coming up the brook from the pond.  He would like to get a head start so he can get his limit before too many find out they are running. It is a noisy bunch once the word is out. Cars park on the side of the road, bumper to bumper, as if there were a grand concert. Some of the smelters wear waders and it is said that after they get their limit in their bucket, they hide some in their waders just in case a game warden comes around checking. Dad doesn’t have waders and he says the limit is enough for a “good mess” and plenty to eat.  Sometimes a smelter will get too eager and fall into the brook and Dad says it spoils it for everyone as that is the end of the smelt run for the night. I know when that happens as I hear him come in the door, and say “damn fools”.  I learned some of my first swear words from his smelting experiences.

I do love the way Ma fries up the smelts all crisp. She rolls them in corn meal or flour, whichever she gets her hands on and they snap in the hot grease in the iron frying pan. I could eat them three times a day!

Brook trout are just as good fried up nice and crisp, but sometimes on opening day, the snowbanks are hard to climb over to find a brook that is running. Dad usually is not much of a one for brook fishing, but the urge to fish comes over him and since the pond still has some ice, he tries it. Dad is not a patient man. I think he expects the brook trout to stay in one place and wait for him to grab it and bring it home. I haven’t told him that, though!!

Oh, and the spring cleaning. Gram has been out washing the outside of her windows, with her white rag swishing in the sunlight. She says she used to wipe them with newspapers and they really shone, but now the ink is different, so she uses old rags. She beats her rug on the clothesline pretty viciously. All we have is a wooden floor in our house, so at least we don’t have to beat a rug. Soon I will see all her curtains swishing on her clothesline.  She really goes at it when it is spring. I think she is beating winter right out of her life when she starts her cleaning!!

I walk up the path toward my cousins’ house to find the white trilliums. There are plenty of the wine colored ones we call Stinking Benjamins. They would look pretty in a bouquet if the Benjamins weren’t so smelly. Ma was on her knees the other day, scraping aside some old dead leaves and looking for her mayflowers in her little patch. She does love mayflowers and says they are her favorite flower. She usually picks just one or two and puts them on the table in a tiny little jar. They smell beautifully for such a tiny blossom.

Dad says spring doesn’t last long enough before summer arrives. Mr. Kenyon is one of the first people to arrive in his cottage across the road.  He has cement sidewalks leading up to his front door and around the side of his cottage. I love skipping on the sidewalks until one day I see the big car with the out of state license plate and I know that my skipping days are done this spring.

School vacation is this week. We call it “mud vacation” or “mud season.”  When Rowe Hill Road gets too muddy for Cass to get his van up there, then we have a week off from school. Everyone hopes that the road will dry up and be dragged in that one week time, but there are always ruts to dodge even after vacation. It is like a quagmire up that road and some of the other back roads where kids live.  I love this vacation as I feel warm again and feel like getting outside and let the sun kiss my face again. It has been a long winter. They are all long!!

Ma gave us our “worm medicine” last night. She brewed up some poplar bark and we had to have a tablespoon of that stuff. She said I would not have to take the poplar bark medicine if I would take a pill. It is purple and the biggest pill I have ever seen in my life. I tried but I couldn’t swallow it and I had purple all over my mouth and tongue and finally Ma, just plain desperate, told me to never mind. She grabbed the soggy pill, told me to open my mouth and in went the ugly poplar bark mixture. None of us has ever had worms so I guess this prevents them. I don’t know. I just wish she would forget some spring and that awful Father John’s medicine.

I always say leave well enough alone..well I don’t say it out loud that’s for sure.  Spring is here and soon we will have nothing but green grass, apple tree buds and Twitchell Pond will look as blue as the sky. Life is good.

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