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Not just a rumor, spring is coming

Did you make it to church on time last Sunday? Don’t worry; I’m sure the pastor will forgive you when you show up an hour early for the service next Nov. 2.

I readily acknowledge a dislike for what we call “Daylight Savings Time,” which doesn’t actually “save” any daylight — or time — at all. Setting our clocks ahead just appears to juggle an hour from one time to another. Daylight Savings Time also wreaks serious havoc with some folks’ medication schedules twice a year, such as one of my younger brothers.

I don’t like to make a habit of grumbling, but having opined on the subject a number of times (usually at least annually), I’ve never found anyone in favor of continuing Daylight Savings Time. I’m thinking it would be great to pass a referendum requiring the powers that be to leave time alone.

However, as with many things in life, there’s a positive aspect to something I dislike: Until — and unless — we return to “standard time” permanently, we can consider this annual setting of our clocks forward an hour as a sign of approaching spring. Now, that, I’m in favor of.

Though we live in an area with a relatively mild climate, most people I know are delighted that spring is on its way. OK, so we’ve had a lot of rain recently. But if “April showers bring May flowers,” I suggest that March showers (or perhaps downpours), could bring April flowers. I’d vote for that.

Other signs of spring are my neighbors’ blooming snowdrops and the myriad sunny daffodils I’ve seen blooming the p ast several days. I’ve also seen various kinds of trees beginning to greet the new season that’s been tip-toeing into our neighborhoods.

It’s no wonder the resurrection of Jesus Christ is celebrated in the spring. Observing such a singular event any other season of the year just wouldn’t make sense.

I do have to admit, though, that spring also brings back memories of one sign of the coming season that I wasn’t so happy about as a child. My mother has always kept a tidy home, in part because spring housecleaning was something she observed every year without fail.

Additionally, when the event fell during our Easter break from school, my sister and I were sure to be recruited (more like drafted) for the task. I recall completely removing everything from a half-wall of shelves in our bathroom — and everything else in that room that wasn’t nailed down — before scouring the room to within an “inch of its life.”

But I also remember that when we waxed the hardwood floors in the living room, we girls were allowed to polish them by running and sliding on them in our socks. Since neither we, nor our brothers, were ever allowed to roughhouse inside, that memory has stuck. I guess it was roughhousing with a purpose, or maybe as a reward. I also recall that my mother made time after our scrubbing and scouring and waxing for us to enjoy what felt like a very adult tea time with her.

Nowadays, I rather like the idea of spring housecleaning every year and even see the wisdom of my mother’s having a second annual time of spiffing up the home at Christmas time.

Last April, my daughter, Carolyn, and I visited the Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens at Woodland. Having emigrated from Germany in 1865, Klager began hybridizing lilacs in 1905 and by 1910 had developed 14 new varieties, according to the Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens website. By 1920, she’d developed so many varieties that she decided to host an open house each spring when the lilacs were in full bloom to share her efforts with other lilac enthusiasts, the website notes.

Though she died in 1960, the open house still occurs each spring and is a wonderful way to celebrate the season, as well as for visitors acquiring varieties of the lovely plant for their own. Last year, my daughter purchased an exquisite potted lilac, the Frank Klager, with the deepest purple blooms I’ve ever seen. Hulda’s husband was named Frank. She also developed a variety named for her son, Fritz, and many other people.

“Frank,” as we call my lilac plant, was ensconced in my front flower bed, where he would get a good amount of sunshine.

In October, however, I went through a very unexpected and difficult move — and I refused to leave without Frank. I’ve hoped all winter long that Frank would survive. I’d studied what kind of soil lilacs need and carefully prepared that when I placed him in the first flowerbed. So when I needed to transplant him outside my new bedroom window, I took much of that soil surrounding his roots with him. I also applied leaves as a mulch when the cold weather began to set in.

I must confess I’ve anxiously been checking the past couple of weeks to see if there’s any sign that Frank is still alive. And pictures I’ve taken of what look like leaf buds over the past 10 days or so seem to indicate that they’re growing. I’ll be delighted if it turns out that both Frank and I survived that awful move.

If the worst happens, though, I know where I can get another. And a trip to the Klager Lilac Gardens, now a state and national historic landmark, is a treat for any reason.

Ahhh, welcome spring.

Southern humorist Lewis Grizzard, born a couple of weeks before I was in 1946, once said in a newspaper column, “Springtime is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn.”

I think he was right.

Tommi Halvorsen Gatlin is a retired reporter, who still contributes to The Vidette. Contact her by emailing the editor at editor@thevidette.com