Signs of Spring

55[1]It is the second week of Spring, but there is still snow covered ground in Upstate New York.

No matter, though.  The signs of spring have appeared, and the warm weather is not far behind.

I’ll tell you why:

The geese have arrived, honking and flying in unison and into each other, as if they too are anxious for the cold to be blown away.   The sounds as they call to each other are majestic and magical; an easy give and take echoing the reminder that all which is difficult passes, and all that is real has always been there anyway, just beyond view.   Just hold on.

I’ve seen pictures of daffodils and crocus pushing up bright colored stems from beneath the snow.  Not here, though. But that’s ok – the spring catalogues have clogged my mailbox, bright with pictures of pretty dresses designed with daffodils and tulips, bright yellows and greens, the colors of Easter, evoking memories of Easters past.

The hardware stores have put away the shovels  and taken out the rakes in anticipation of the Great Clean Up.   Everyone is ready to clear their decks and walkways, ready to plant their flowers and arrange their planters.

The Lake, the great Ontario, is still a powerful sight.   Once a blanket of white from the shore to the horizon, its starting to chip and wobble, the groaning from under the ice audible.   Not from here though, but that’s ok.  Even though my view has changed, my outlook hasn’t.   I still hear it calling to me, this time for my presence in it, and not just from afar somewhere on shore.  I am part of it now, and no one is more surprised than I.

The Book of Seasons  is always changing, even though in some places it takes longer to turn the page.  But that’s ok.

Spring is coming.

 

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PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

The kids were over for dinner last night, and even though they are no longer children, I like to put together a menu that is reminiscent of when they were.

The one serving our country is back on dry land after six years and is no worse for wear from the experience. He is older, wiser and more mature. A natural progression, of course, but it is still odd to see him as a man.

Standing next to him at the front door was his best friend and my 7th child, Jon. They have been friends since kindergarten, and it is my deepest joy that they have remained friends all these years. I believe the art of friendship is the biggest gift you can pass on to your children.

How to get them, how to keep them, and how to be one.

Dinner was meatloaf and an old favorite for dessert: Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

It immediately brought a smile to his face when I brought it into the dining room, steaming hot and bubbling having just retrieved it from the oven. For this was his first attempt at cooking while in 1st grade, a project all students were asked to do.

Bake something with your parents and bring it to school! The flyer said.

“I want to make an pineapple upside down cake!” He announced proudly.

“Can we?”

I looked at him and smiled, even though I didn’t have a clue back then as how to assemble one.

Thank goodness for the Betty Crocker Cookbook I had received when I was first married at 21 years old. It had followed me from house to house, and had served me well. I learned how to make chicken pot-pies and far too many variations of meatloaf than I cared to admit, but it was a great source of information. It taught me how to get out of more scrapes in the kitchen than I could have imagined.

“Sure” I answered happily, as I reached for the good book. “Let’s find a recipe.”

Needless to say, the Pineapple Upside Down Cake was a success, and he talked about it for days on end, until even his baby sister couldn’t stand it any longer.

“Why did you want to make that cake, anyway?” she asked exasperated. “What’s so special about that cake?”

She had asked the question I had been rolling around in the back of my mind since he had asked for it. Since I had never made it before, I wondered why he was even interested in it.

Looking at me with the pride I still see in his eyes to this day, he answered. I will never forget the dedication and unabashed affection in his voice as he told me simply and without embarrassment.

“It’s my best friend Jon’s favorite cake” he said joyfully, and then he turned to run into the living room. The Transformers were on t.v.; one of his favorite shows.

The memory of that day has been tucked away in my mind and wasn’t brought back out until I laid the cake in front of him again last night after dinner.

We smiled, as no words were needed. I cut the cake in giant squares to pass along with vanilla ice cream.

For we know that good friends are forever, no matter what.