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The sun is shining brightly on this spring day, with a restless March wind blowing through the budding maple tree. Spring peepers announce loudly and persistently that spring has arrived. From pond and puddle, their shrill piping resounds in a jubilant chorus. At daybreak, the songbirds greet the new day with their cheerful melody, and we also greet each portent of coming spring with thankfulness.

It is a privilege to live here in the hills when spring awakens the land from the sleep of winter. To fully enjoy spring’s advent in the hills, a person must get right down to earth to see the miniature beauty of the wild flowers. It takes a leisurely walk through the woods to even glimpse the tiny bluets as they peep through the grass. The delicate wood anemone is blooming now; half-hiding in last year’s dry leaves on the forest bed. The shy purple violets try to hide in the new green grass, but their intense color gives them away.

Spring tenderly coaxes the fresh new buds to come out on the trees, promising them warm air, sunshine, and refreshing springtime showers. She smiles at the plump robin with his head cocked to one side watching for an unwary earthworm; sees the proud red cardinal exercising his lordly proprietorship over the surrounding territory; spies the timid brown wren building her nest in a fence post. Life is good in the hills.

The house wren tears out last year’s nest; then methodically begins rebuilding, stick by stick, using the same materials. This basic instinct seems to hit most housewives this time of year, as cold weather gives way to sunshiny days. There is an urge to throw open the doors and windows, rout out the dirt and grime of winter; refurbish and decorate. Many times using the same sticks, we do arrange them in different order-or move the clutter from one room to another.

There is an irresistible pull to rake the yard, prune the shrubs and get the flowerbeds ready for planting. The newly-plowed garden warms in the sunshine and waits anxiously for the early planting. But the cleaning, culling and tossing must come first. And herein lies the rub.

It is amazing that a couple can live in relative harmony all through the year, only to come to such loggerheads when it is time to sort out the junk from the treasures. There is no other area in married life that the divergent views of the sexes are seen so plainly. It will test a solid marriage.

A couple will attempt to clean an outbuilding together. He advises the wife, who is furtively attempting to hide three bushels of accumulated papers and newspaper clippings behind a discarded storm door, “Why don’t you throw that stuff away?” She squalls like a scalded cat, “What? These are the kid’s school papers that I have kept since they started school!” She tenderly drags out a ragged sheet with a wobbly scrawl-”I CAN RUN. I CAN WALK” printed on it in childish printing. She wipes away a tear. Never mind that the writer of that epistle is six feet and four inches tall and 58 years old; she is seeing a vulnerable first-grader bringing home his first paper. Some of these papers are 55 years old, and invaluable. How can you replace your first child’s drawing of his kindergarten teacher?

In retaliation, she points to some hefty chunks of wood that have been stored in the rafters for years. “Why don’t you throw that old wood away?” she asks reasonably. Outraged, he yells, “That’s wood I’m saving for hammer handles!” Wisely, she doesn’t remind him that it has been there since they built the shop 50 years ago, because she is trying to hide a rusty pogo stick that the long-ago children hopped on like demented baby rabbits.

The things he saves seem ridiculous to her. She picks up an ancient rusty object and starts to toss it on the discard pile. “Wait!” he yells, “Don’t throw that away. It’s the dingwhiffle for a thermapop.” So she reluctantly places it back with three more dingwhiffles, some dryer parts and other mysterious objects that he may need some day. After all, who knows when they may have to go back to the Maytag wringer washer that serviced the family so faithfully years ago?

Just as sure as she discards an article, it will be exactly what he wants-soon. A few days ago she got up enough nerve to toss out an old tool catalog that had been outdated for three years. The next day he asked for it.

Giving it up, she glances at the pickup truck where he is loading the throwaways. She spies the legs to a table that belonged to the last baby who is now the mother of three teenage girls. “I want these,” she states firmly, as she digs them out of the pile of rubble. “I am going to put that back together!” He fixes a steely eye on her and says grimly, “You touch one thing in that truck and I am going to quit!” She slinks back in the house and closes her eyes as he hauls off years of memories. Then she smiles as she stores away the broken toys she had hidden under her jacket.

The weather forecast is calling for colder weather and maybe some snow for the weekend. As all of us country folks know, it must snow on the sarvis bloom before spring can come in its fullness. We have another sure sign that it’s almost here-the first morel mushrooms have been found. Patty found the first two (they were all small) but Bob found four.

by Bliss Carmen

I took a day to search for God,
And found Him not. But as I trod
By rocky ledge, through woods untamed,
I saw His footprint in the sod.

Then suddenly, all unaware,
Far off in the deep shadows, where
A solitary hermit thrush
Sang through the holy twilight hush–
I heard His voice upon the air.
And even as I marveled how
God gives us Heaven here and now,
In a stir of wind that hardly shook
The poplar leaves beside the brook–
His hand was light upon my brow.

At last with evening as I turned
Homeward, and thought what I had learned
And all that there was still to probe–
I caught the glory of His robe
Where the last fires of sunset burned.

Back to the world with quickening start
I longed and longed for any part
In making saving Beauty be.
And from that kindling ecstasy
I knew God dwelt within my heart.

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Alyce Faye Bragg

She writes the "News From the Hills" column. Born and raised in the country, and still lives on the same farm where she was raised. Has a sincere love for nature and the beauty of the hills. Began writing in 1981 & currently has three books published. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer