From Pipi’s Pasture: Sharing fond remembrances of spring
Every now and then, I have trouble settling down to a topic for my column. It happens when my mind wanders — or perhap, when my brain is just plain tired. In any case, that’s what happened this week. Enjoying Easter with family members, hearing the morning songs from the spring birds, discovering a batch of kittens hidden in dried grass at the corral and noticing some volunteer onions peeking through the ground at the garden — all of these things, and more, had my mind wandering.
I’d intended to write a column about bottle calves, since we are feeding a couple this calving season, but my mind kept on going back to spring. So, even though I have written a lot about the weather lately, this column is about my fondest memories of spring, especially April and May. It begins with spring when my siblings and I were growing up on the ranch.
As I’ve written before, winter usually hung on — and on — up on Morapos Creek. The snow melted slowly, and it snowed again and again. My siblings and I were tired of wearing bundles of clothes and stomping around in our heavy boots. When the road into the ranch began to bare off and there were enough dry spots to step on, we took off our boots and walked home from school without them. It was wonderful, even if we did have to carry our boots.
When the snow started going off in earnest around the house, we looked forward to finding the “Salt and Peppers,” plants that grow close to the ground. I don’t know their scientific name, but the flowering parts of the plants (which don’t look like flowers at all) are black/brown and white, thus, the plant names. The plants still come up each spring, and my brother, Duane Osborn, told me that they’re up now.
The” Salt and Peppers” are followed by the “ Johnny Jump Up” plants, little yellow violas
that appear to have tiny faces. We looked forward to finding these early signs of spring that were followed by the tulips and crocuses that started peeking through the ground as the snow melted off the flower beds. As the spring temperatures grew warmer, lots of wild flowers began to bloom.
We kids always listened for the songs from the spring birds, like the blackbirds and a spring bird (probably a sparrow). Robins and bluebirds returned, but the sign that spring had really arrived was the sounds made by the flicker.
One of my most memorable spring sounds isn’t from my childhood. It came from the time we lived north of Craig, about 18 years ago. When the snow started melting in the mountains, we could hear a roar as the water came rushing down though Fortification Creek. Sometimes, the force of the water was strong enough to bring anything in its path down with it. I will never forget the sound of the water.
Here at Pipi’s Pasture, we don’t have the early spring flowers we knew at the ranch. What we do have is the smell of early spring soil and the songs from the blackbirds and robins as they welcome spring. One of the things I enjoy most is hearing the sandhill cranes as the fly over on their way to their nesting grounds, one of which is Morapos. (I do not remember hearing them when I was a child.)
Memories are wonderful. Next week, I’ll tackle the bottle calves.
This week’s picture book for children was written and illustrated by David Litchfield who lives in the United Kingdom. “The Bear, the Piano, the Dog, and the Fiddle” is a sequel to “The Bear and the Piano,” a best-selling picture book.