Of all the months, March is the one with the most mood swings.
Here in Indiana, the third month brings every kind of weather. There will be days with sunshine, blue skies, white clouds, and even summer-like temperatures. Those, however, may well be followed by a snowstorm. Tornadoes will carry warnings or watches, an ice storm may cripple trees and power wires. It will rain.
And that’s only day one.
Well, two, maybe.
If it’s been a particularly rough winter, which it hasn't been this year, March is that thing you point to, as in, “Once we get to March, it will turn around.”
I spent winter 1986 sick with morning sickness, although time of day had nothing to do with the constant nausea and overall exhaustion. The cold and dreariness offered no relief. I thought it would never end.
Then the calendar flipped to March and it was as though a light had flipped too. It was a Saturday on that first day of March. I went to Lafayette where I had lunch at Long John Silver’s and went shopping. As I ate fish, and gazed out at the bright day, I at last felt … good! I wasn’t sick, wasn’t tired, and I wanted to hug the month.
Little could I have imagined this: The baby girl that would marry the baby boy I carried would be born the next day.
In the years our boys were growing up, March meant baseball. In fact, baseball was a major part of our lives for nearly two decades, counting both boys’ years of participation. I associate March with delight that it was finally time, and weather good enough, for the boys to get out there and practice. Each new season meant new teammates and dynamics as well as new uniforms and new parents with whom to share bleacher time.
Baseball, and by association March, had a scent, a chilly, earthy, leathery scent. It had a sound. It was the snap of ball in glove, of crack of the aluminum bat against ball. March had an energy of hope for the season ahead. It was time to play ball, or at least practice it, and I couldn’t imagine it ending someday and being a baseball mom without boys and a team or two to follow.
Perspective is everything. Now I wonder how I found the time to get anything done besides baseball because boy, there was a lot of baseball. Now I wonder how I would ever fit baseball into my life. Yes, perspective.
Spring breaks always came in March and for a few, too few years, we had some fun times: Disney World, Busch Gardens, Historic Williamsburg, Virginia, Cleveland where we saw the Cavs play and visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Football Hall of Fame in Canton.
There was the spring break we spent on college visits to Bloomington, Hanover, Terre Haute and Evansville, only for Sam to visit Muncie later and say that’s it, search over. He would be a Cardinal.
Along with daughter-in-law Allison’s March birthday, it's also son Ben’s.
March, for decades, meant time for my biggest work project of the year, the annual Courier-Times recipe contest. Then interest waned and we moved on to other projects.
I appreciate March most these days because we get to spring forward on Sunday. Say what you will about former Gov. Mitch Daniels but if I saw him I might give him a high five for Daylight Savings Time. I like it.
I also like March because once April arrives, I’m counting on spring, no more playing around, and I'll watch daily as green replaces brown landscape and sandals top newly bare feet.
What do you like or dislike about March? How do you feel about springing forward?
March, you are a fickle month, you devil. But you aren’t January and you aren’t February. And for those reasons, I welcome you with open, if sweater-clad, arms.
If you’ve been hanging with me for a while, you might know that a few years ago, our friend and oh-so-handy man, Monty Foust, designed and built our open-air back porch. It’s been my joy ever since as a great place to sneak off to (well, sneak may be overstated as it is only one step away from the kitchen. I’m not so hard to find).
Although I am not much of a napper, I find that out there on the wicker sofa, with the soothing sounds of birds and breeze, I can drift right off. But after eight years of sun and rain, freeze and thaw, some sprucing is in order.
On Wednesday I touched up the two wicker rocking chairs with black spray paint. We had some upstairs space open up due to Brian’s exercise machine. It had a slow death of many years and so many visits from the repairman that he and his family expect invites to Thanksgiving dinner, but it is now gone and in its place is a gym membership. So the porch stuff is wintering upstairs.
The outdoor sofa’s exterior is holding up great but there is a problem. The elastic that holds the cushions in place is stretched out. This is due to us making the mistake of wintering the sofa on the porch one year. So I need to address that issue. And, the cushions need recovered due to sun and stains. My winter project beckons.
I have this OCD thing of wanting to put things away as good as or preferably better than I found them. Not that it always works out that way.
For example, I’m particular, some might say fanatical, about the way I store Christmas decorations. When they are unpacked each year, I care that the lights work, the ornaments have tops and hangers and there is law and order in them-thar boxes. Call me crazy.
One year when the time came to put them away, I was down with the flu. I felt so horrible that I told Brian just to throw it all in the boxes because I did not care. Luckily, I couldn’t hold up my head to supervise the work. I dreaded unpacking it all again in 11 months.
While I certainly am not the best housekeeper, I do like the notion of order.
It’s the time of year when we work from the outside in. How about you? What are your fall projects before the snow flies and the winter winds begin to howl? Speaking of wind and winter, it’s going to be a chilly one tonight. First frost. I’ll be sipping my new favorite hot-tea flavor: Salted Caramel. YUM!
Hey! If you are free at 10 tomorrow (Saturday, Oct. 22), come on over to the Spiceland Public Library. I'm bringing homemade pie. Librarian Kathy Painter is providing coffee, and we'll talk about using recipes in novels, how I decided to write my latest, and whatever else you want. I'll have copies of both books. Meanwhile, grab an extra blanket. You might need it tonight (especially if you haven't turned on your heat yet, as we have not)!
A paint touch-up is in order for the porch rockers. The one on the left was $25 at a roadside sale near Noblesville a few years ago. The one on the right was 20 bucks at a thrift shop. Since they are real wicker (and not the all-weather kind) they need a little sprucing now and then. But mostly, they rock!
I didn’t set out to collect leaf pins. I suppose that’s how all collections begin. You start with one, and as soon as another is added, boom, you have a collection.
I tend to wear pins anyway as my jewelry of choice with a preference for the big, grandma brooches of old. Maybe that’s because I spent a fair share of childhood time rummaging through my mother’s and grandmother’s jewelry boxes admiring the sparkles and shine of their costume jewelry.
One of the most elegantly dressed (and beautiful) women of my childhood was my eighth-grade history teacher, Joan Kratzer. If you knew her, you will likely recall the gold, circle pin she wore daily. I once asked her about it and she said it was her signature fashion statement.
My first leaf pin was a resident of mom’s jewelry box. It’s the gold-hued one with the tiny pearl. It came from a neighbor’s Sarah Coventry Jewelry party in the 1960s. Who remembers those? And whatever happened to Sarah? Oh, I’m sure I could have my answer with a Google search and probably find other pins like this one online. When I think of that pin, I think of mom wearing it on a scarf.
The red, leaf one came from a second-hand clothing store in New Castle, if memory serves. Of my leaf pins, I think it’s my favorite. It seems to go well on jean jackets and black sweaters, both of which I’m partial.
The silver leaf is another pre-worn find, and it probably cost a buck or two.
I have a pair of tiny leaf “scatter pins.” The scatter pin isn’t something trending right now and that makes me even more of a fan. The leaves are very thin and have beautiful shimmers. I think there was a third in this trio that I gifted to my nature-loving friend Cheryl. They came as a set but where, I don't recall other than from a consignment store somewhere.
I also have a wreath-styled bronze pin of autumn leaves. I’m a big fan of wreaths as well as pins so when I saw this one in a thrift store, I snagged it. Yesterday it fell off in the middle of a parking lot with a lot of traffic around. I’m glad I heard it hit the ground or it would have been gone forever.
I don’t know why, but I never wear these cuties at any time of the year except for fall. Even though I should wear them year-round, I doubt that I ever will. It’s kind of fun to have some seasonal pieces to save and enjoy during, well, leaf season.
How about you? Do you have any fall collections?
Fall rolls in tomorrow. No one in this house is complaining.
Autumn isn’t my favorite season, but every time it gets here, I wonder why not. It's pretty splendid. This year we're completely over the humidity and heat! There hasn’t yet been a single sweatshirt day, and while the pantry is stocked with my favorite Twinings Green Tea, I haven’t steeped that first teabag in months (I prefer iced tea until it cools off outside and that sure hasn’t happened)! Oh, but of course that will happen soon, and it will be delightful.
I’ve promised my newsroomies that we’ll start the new season with our Chew This! columnist Blaise Doubman’s Pumpkin Crunch Cake from his new cookbook, Blaise the Baker Dessert First, served first thing in the morning at our Thursday staff meeting.
I have to work on my Bible Study Fellowship lesson, get some things ready for working a long day tomorrow, including a first – it seems that I'm “opening” at an elementary school’s Back To School Night tomorrow with a program on literacy.
Oh, but more decisions on the garage-door saga! I had one color in mind from the ones offered with the style we chose, but true to form, I'm re-thinking the choice. Maybe it should be the lightest color among the standard choices, the almond over the desert tan.
I’ve noticed a lifelong pattern whereby I have trouble deciding on color when it comes to large spaces – paint, carpeting, and now the garage double doors.
I’m digging out the fall decorations and have gotten started with a few.
So let’s get it started: a new season, back-to-school night, Pumpkin Fest out at Whitetail Tree Farm this weekend, leaves, color and sweater weather. Bring it.
And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people. – Exodus 13:21-22
I attend an international, non-denominational Bible study nine months a year called Bible Study Fellowship. Each year is a different in-depth look at a particular topic, with references taking you all over the Bible.
BSF resumes the week after Labor Day and this session, which runs through early May, we’ll be in the book of John.
In the six previous years the studies have included (in no particular order here) Isaiah, Genesis, Acts of the Apostles, Matthew, Revelation, and Life of Moses. I have loved each study as part of my lifelong pursuit to become biblically literate. When you study the Bible, it comes alive to you because it is the Living Word of God.
If I had to select a favorite study so far, I’d pick Life of Moses. His life, and the miracle of God bringing His nation, Israel, out from slavery in Egypt on a journey to the Promised Land, is alive for me on so many levels! The year of the study was the same one I literally experienced that Promised Land of Israel for myself with a group from my church and I will never be the same. The Word came alive as we physically walked upon the pages of the Bible in 3-D color.
I keep thinking about God manifesting Himself before the Israelites as a Pillar of Cloud by day, and a Pillar of Fire by night. How did the ancient Jews ever get over that? How could they quibble and complain when God led them on a daily journey where they saw Him in those forms, protecting and leading? Man, would I love a selfie with God the Pillar of both Cloud and Fire!
Oh, but I do the same as they did. Don’t we all? And today, God is living inside me as He is inside all Christians. Yet sometimes we take Him for granted or we rail or complain or doubt. I say this often: I’m being an Israelite again.
Still, I can't quit thinking of God appearing as a constant Pillar … leading and protecting.
I think of the manna He provided daily for His people, Israel. It was perfect nourishment, the supply to meet their daily needs. Yet they were not to store it away as spares for tomorrow in case God didn’t show up with more. No, He promised that He would provide it daily. They had to trust.
The thought of the manna is with me lately. When I want more than He has provided, want a spare something, want more than I need today, I am tempted to ask God why I don’t have that reserve.
He shows me the manna. His showing me the manna is in the form of supernatural, spiritual provision that keeps coming to mind. It is enough to trust Him. I even wrote the word MANNA on a slip of paper and taped it to my computer. He’s that serious about this topic, and I’m that serious about remembering it.
Lately, the Hoosier skies have been putting on a show of wonderment. They are just clouds, I know, but they are part of His creation and they are spectacular, and I think of God as that Pillar of Cloud, leading, protecting. Facebook posts have been full of beautiful skies filled with clouds and sky, stunning sunsets and starry night scenes. It's all at once as new as today and as ancient as creation. I could spend hours looking up.
These photos were taken yesterday during my drive home from work. Enjoy the scenery, and don’t forget to look up.
The Bible Study Fellowship I attend is Monday nights at the host church, the Middletown Church of the Nazarene. This year’s study is Monday, Sept. 12 at 6:55-8:55 p.m. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for information. OR, just show up! There’s an introduction class that night. BSF is free and you’ll be surprised to find a couple of hundred women there too from all manner of denominations and backgrounds. Regionally, BSF also meets Tuesday mornings in New Castle, and there is a Richmond class. Wherever you are, there's likely a BSF class close enough for you to attend.
It never occurred to me that my husband might have a favorite flower. Then the other day he said it was the orange tiger lily. “I love seeing those along the road,” he said. “They only bloom in June and that means school is out and summer is still ahead.”
I’ve always thought of those as happy flowers, too, or maybe even weeds. If they are weeds, bloom on, because they form picturesque floral-scapes along country roads, fences and ditches. They seem to bloom out of nowhere, in places you wouldn’t give a second glance 11 months of the year.
I think most of us spend our lives, to a degree, thinking of time in relationship to school calendars. If June means freedom and tiger lilies, those bright purple weeds and the sound of cicadas in August mean school is about to start. Crocus appearing out of the snow in late February mean hold on, spring break is coming.
The school calendar is even more significant when, like Brian, you have 40 years under your belt working in education. “I’ve been going to school since 1958,” he has often told people. He's now been retired from either attending or working in schools for a year. But he’ll never stop packaging life according to a school calendar.
And that’s why he loves seeing those orange tiger lilies blooming, as they are, now, in June’s remaining days.
Speaking of remaining days of June: If you live in or around Elwood, Muncie or Tipton, let’s connect! Three different venues, three different programs are on tap for the rest of the week with the little book tour for That Sweet Place: At Home in the Heartland.
Seventy-three degrees in mid-March, in Indiana.
And an extra hour of light at the end of the day.
And sunshine is beaming right now.
Sure wish I didn’t have to work today. But I'm home now, and in just a bit, I’m heading out the door and around the block. I hear the children’s voices out there, and it’s almost a childhood flashback; as though I could hop on my pony and fly down our gravel road and meet up with the neighbor kids.
Reality check: I’m 57.
Could it be that spring has sprung and we’re done fretting about cold weather? Nah. We’ll have more of it. But not today and I’m celebrating.
Almost as polarizing as presidential politics around these parts is where you stand on Daylight Savings Time. I don’t discuss politics on social media but I will tell you exactly where I am on DST: I love it. Love that extra hour of light at the end of my day, love it in mid-summer where it is 10 p.m. and I feel like I’ve had an entire day to enjoy since I left work.
Maybe it depends on if you are a morning or evening person or if you have school-age kids to get to bed or to bus stops. I have none of those issues. I’m neither a morning nor evening person. My finest hour is 10 a.m. but I get a second wind at night. The light is inspiring.
If you aren't feeling it, well, at least I hope your clocks have all been changed.
Like me on Facebook!
Well, enough about light. I see the stats on how many read this blog but few of you comment. And I wonder: WHO are you all? Here’s a favor.
My author page on Facebook is five people shy of 500 and in the coming weeks I’ve got some big stuff to tell you about.
So if you enjoy writing, books and my quirky brand of small talk, would you go onto Facebook and like Donna Cronk – the author page?
And, tell me about yourself while you are there and if this blog prompted the “like.”
You could just put on your walking shoes and hit the road. There’s still some light to be had out there. Yee-haw.
I’m always glad to see March arrive. It isn’t that March is a fantastic month (well, unless one is headed somewhere wonderful on spring break or has a dog in the hunt of March Madness), but the beauty of this month is in what it is not: it is neither January nor February.
You can expect anything, weather-wise, and you will get it. Maybe that is only if you live in the Midwest. I’ve never lived anywhere else. Here in Indiana, you’ll find cold, wind, snow, ice, warmth, maybe even heat, tornado warnings or at least watches, thunderstorms and possibly thunder-snowstorms. Yep, we’ve got it all—sometimes in the same day or two. Don’t be jealous.
When I was a kid, I went with my parents to a farm auction. There was something about that date, March 12, that has always stuck with me. It was warm as summer, and it felt delicious. Back then we were big Cincinnati Reds fans and that day, there was a spring training game on the radio. It felt so hopeful.
Hopeful is perhaps March’s greatest attribute. We’ve made it through the bulk of the winter. The clocks are springing forward which means an extra hour of light at the end of the day (I love this; my husband does not).
It’s also the birth month of our daughter-in-law, Allison, younger son, Ben, and their aunt Linda.
It’s time to consider that spring is nearing reality; that winter coats can soon return to the closets until late fall, and that a new pair of sandals are in order.
March, I don’t love you like I do May, June, and October (my favorite months). But you are growing on me.
What’s your favorite month? And, are you doing something fabulous for spring break?
I remember a season a few years ago when a friend and I were discussing winter and she said she looked forward to the stillness and lack of demands of the winter months. She mentioned things like reading, sleeping well, hibernating and enjoying the fact that January was not December, a month that expects a lot from us.
I thought about that—when I got a breath—this January.
None of it applied.
January has become a demanding month at the newspaper where I work. It comes with a variety of special projects and this year, training on a new computer system was added to the mix. My Bible Study Fellowship and its related homework resume, I have to figure and pay Indiana sales tax on book proceeds by January’s end, and we had several unexpected expenses including the death and burial of Brian’s long-loved (and hated) exercise machine (which passed away one month after the much-renewed and too-often-used service contract ended).
There was the carpeting, which we had planned for, the death of the dishwasher, which we had not, and two vehicles’ worth of new tires which also took us by surprise.
Oh yes, December was nothing on the bank account compared to January.
I also worked on upgrading some social media and installing Paypal and a few other things in prep for the new book later this year. I keep asking myself: Will I make good use of the changes and more, their potential?
The month ended with a women’s retreat. And then some bad things happened. There were three sudden deaths over the past few days in families of people I know well and care about. My heart goes out to all the families touched by these circumstances and unexpected losses.
Basically, last month and the recent passings have left me feeling cranky.
But we are grateful for the good things in life, all the same. This day dawned sunny—such a treat—and I used the morning to sit down and go through all of our financial statements and expenses that are needed for getting our income taxes done in a couple of weeks. After a couple of intense hours gathering, paper-clipping and adding expenses on my business, I took a break and checked email.
There in the inbox was the subject matter of “Program” and the email from someone whose name I didn’t recognize. Sure enough, it was someone from my hometown inviting me to give a program to senior citizens at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 23 in the Union County Public Library. The topic is “Reminisce” and I’m asked to share some hometown memories. Would I consider it?
Sometimes it takes something that might seem small to improve an otherwise blah day. I needed something to brighten my outlook and while I am thankful to those inviting me, I am crediting the Good Lord for arranging it.
I’m beginning to see January in my rear view mirror as I pull deeper into February. And that is a good thing.
What winter joys do you see ahead for yourself? Or maybe you are enjoying a laid-back season of reading, snuggling and relaxing. Some friends from church are leaving today for a short-term Philippines mission trip. Some others are leaving for Florida. Some family just returned from there.
Whatever is on your winter calendar, I wish you sunshine in your spirit as well as out your window. And a sweet surprise or two along the way.
There is a legend in our family that I am stingy about Halloween candy. Sam says one year I bagged up cereal! (I do not remember this and think he dreamed it).
Brian always says I don’t buy enough. I think that myth dates to the first year we were married, 37 years ago, when we ran out and had to go buy more. But run out and buy more we did. I don’t think we’ve been short since.
In fact, the opposite is true. And that's exactly why we should not buy the most delicious candy.
In our hands, tiny bags of M & Ms are nothing if not gateway sweets to full-sized Reece Cups or even Jumbo Hershey Bars. Brian and I do not need candy. In fact, we need to avoid candy. That means we shouldn’t be entrusted with a bowl brimming with 160 small bars of Snickers! We should hand out Skittles or Three Muskateers or Milky Ways. Those, I can turn down.
But no, Brian picked out the best stuff.
If there are leftovers, and there will be, we need to immediately stash them somewhere like the trunk or the crawl space, somewhere that requires effort and a contemplative walk of shame to reach.
I was gone to a conference most of yesterday and today and didn’t figure I’d get home until the little goblins had come and gone. So I told Brian, weeks ago, that I was giving him more than two-weeks' notice that I had resigned from handing out candy this year. Turns out I got home early, but my resignation from these duties remains in effect. It’s all him.
I’ll be in the tub.
I remember a few unusual Halloweens. Years ago, Brian and I visited Abraham Lincoln’s home in Springfield, Ill. on this day. One year we transferred my father-in-law’s nursing home residency. A few years ago my brother and sister-in-law Tim and Jeannie Jobe and I went to the Exotic Feline Rescue Center on this date.
There were years I took the kids around locally. One of my favorite pictures of the boys is when they dressed up as Batman and Robin.
Then there was the year I married Bradley Rigsby. Bradley and I were in first grade and rode the school bus together. I was a bride that year, and I guess Bradley wanted to be a groom because we got hitched. On the bus. Gee, this must be our 51st wedding anniversary. Too bad he moved away after first grade.
Many years I went trick-or-treating with my relatives Mike, Lisa and Marlene. A couple of years, Barbara Earl and I created a haunted house in our basement and invited in the neighbor kids. We loved to scare them with things like eyeball grapes and spaghetti brains.
I have a memory of getting full-sized candy bars – Hershey Bars as memory serves – in Philomath. Apparently they got so few treaters that they went big for the local kids they knew. I always think of Philomath when I think of Halloween.
When I was very small, I attended the Halloween party in the Brownsville Gymnasium, long since burnt down. I remember Perry Floyd dressed as a clown. He scared me and I cried. Maybe that’s why I don’t care for clowns today. Perry was a nice man -- as long as he didn’t look like a clown.
It’s time to turn on the porch light and sequester the dog. I will tell Brian to unload those M & Ms first. They need to be gone when I emerge from my bath.