Springtime in the “Center”

There was one constant in springtime in Greenwood Center, Maine. Mud! Our driveway was chocolate pudding with my father’s tire tracks looking like two fingers had swirled their way through. My mother cautioned us constantly about bringing mud in on the bottom of our shoes as “she was not about to be washing the floor every other day.”

The first sign of spring, to me, was the brook rushing by the house…and soon the snow on the bank melted bit by bit. What joy to run, even on the brown remnants of last fall, along the bank of the brook. We shed those heavy clothes of winter and felt free with the warm sun on our faces.

My mother mixed a concoction of vinegar and water and scrubbed the windows on her days off from the mill. Curtains were taken down and initially cleaned on the old scrub board, until years later when my brother Tink bought her first wringer washer. (Yes, I did catch a finger in it). We had very little materially, but spring meant that doors and windows could be flung open and the winter dust could escape!

What we couldn’t escape, of course, was Ma’s home remedies for preventing the dreaded “worms ” and other parasitic visitors to our bodies. The brothers also got a healthy serving of Father John’s medicine. I cannot recall any foreign bodies invading us because of the spring season. Of course, we all eventually had the usual diseases all kids will have from one varying degree to another.  It took forever for us to break out with the chicken pox and Ma said we would feel better once we did. At long last, Dad decided he would go to Dan Cole’s and get some “sheep turd” and brew up some tea and that would bring out the spots. No need. The mere thought of it and we erupted in good shape.

Meanwhile, across the pasture Gram Martin had her rugs on the line and she and Uncle Louis were beating the dust out of them with a vengeance. Grampa sat with his canes, watching the action and I am sure, giving his two cents worth. I never saw a neater house than my Gram Martin’s …there was even a lid that came down over the wood box so one could sit down for an extra seat and that was scrubbed clean. Like most homes, at the time, there was  no indoor plumbing, but her “privvy” was the best! Every inch of the walls was covered with colorful pictures she had cut from magazines and since it was located within the barn, one could sit and be entertained while not worrying about the cold of the winter or animals!

Spring meant really one thing to me. Baseball!! Oh, how I loved listening to the Red Sox play. Rex and I turned on the old Philco radio during the day, being careful not to run the battery down so that Dad could listen to the news that night. I could not wait until all the snow left the yard and we could take turns batting and pitching.

Years later, it was almost time for folks to come down from Locke Mills and we’d have a pick up game on the “flat”. Oh, what evenings to look forward to when the cars arrived and we chose teams. The flat is no longer; that was long ago and far away. Every time I ride through the Center, I glance at the field full of trees and wonder if it was just my imagination that I once played baseball almost every spring and summer night there. At times, it is true, you can’t go home.

My Uncle Roy was getting his strawberry beds in shape for the coming season. Uncle Louis was already thinking about next winter’s fire wood. He was a planner.

Gram Martin’s lilac bush by the road blossomed and the air was perfumed clear to our yard. My mother had a secret mayflower patch and each year would go to the clotheline, kneel down, and brush leaves away with her hand. A few hours later, in the middle of our oil cloth covered table would be a jar filled with the beautiful little flowers. They were her favorites.

Twitchell Pond grew darker and blacker each day; thinning ice pulled away from the shores and everyone was guessing the “ice out” day. The fishermen were the most eager to see it go and get the boats readied. Uncle Louis painted his a deep green color each year.

Spring. What a wonderful season of re-birth. Why does it take so long to get here? I don’t know…but it’s worth waiting for, isn’t it.

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