Firsts, sweet and bittersweet.

April first is not the beginning of the year, but it carries a sense of newness, of spring, of the return of life and growth and sun, and so I start thinking of firsts.

I pulled into the drive after work a few weeks ago, and spread out across the field was a patch of snowdrops, their creamy little white blooms hanging shyly toward the ground. Had they been blooming weeks before I saw them, and it took a chorus line of them to get my attention, or did they spring forth overnight? Now I cherish them daily. Sweet.

Bubbling mud? I awoke to a distant repetitive bobbling sound. The early light was a brightening the sky and my room. Bubble bobble. What was it? Gobble gobble. For the first time in my life I was awakened by a tom turkey in the back yard. Sweet.

Sun on bare arms, without shivering. Bumble bees droning by, and the spicy scent of cranesbill geranium as leaves get crushed where we rake. Sweet.

Frogs are back. The ducklike cackle of woodfrogs announce that spring is early this year. I chuckle back at them. For several years I participated in the frog count on Mount Desert Island, and it has become an annual rite of spring. Wood frogs, peepers, green frogs, pickerels and leopards. I learned to listen to them all, and to make frog sounds myself. Trill, twang, chuckle, I stop yearning for snow and ice and exult in the sound of teeming amphibians. Sweet.

Forsythia. So very Yellow! I do not love them, but I love cutting a few branches as the snow recedes, along with birch and other unknown twigs. They bloom and leaf out bright green in the house, while outside branches are still bare. Sweet.

Easter. My mom loved hiding eggs for us as children, and insisted on Easter egg hunts for all her grandchildren as they came along. She would cluck like a chicken, and pull out a candy egg, and brandish it just like a self-satisfied hen. I became assistant Easter bunny, poking jelly beans into balloons before we blew them up and tied them in the yard. We made cardboard chicks and rabbits and stapled them to wooden stakes and set them out. “But mom, it’s drizzling, they won’t want to hunt in this!” I would protest, as we waited for my sisters to show up with their kids. “We will do it anyway,” she insisted. We did. And the grandkids hunted and squealed, and rolled their eyes when we shook a balloon to make it rattle and give them a hint. They dashed about popping all the balloons and gathering the candy as it fell. Every Easter mom and I chuckled about some of our best hides as Easter bunnies. This is my first Easter without mom. Bittersweet.

Mom’s obit


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