By Bill Shepard
It is time to say good-bye to February and turn the page on the calendar-February, short on days but long on events. A glimpse at the calendar lists some of those events: those that are special to history and some that are special only to a few such as birthdays of famous men, Valentine’s Day, famous battles of World War II, a long part of past history. I hesitate to turn the page, thoughtful that I might not be at this moment again.
I stepped outside onto my front porch, it has been drizzling rain all night. It is cloudy and a bit foggy, sunshine would be a welcomed intruder, should it appear through the clouds and fog. It will come, I feel certain, it always does at its own time of choosing.
The birds are singing and have been in recent days. My yard seems a choir loft! Are they announcing the arrival of their young, their mating song or just the arrival of an early and false Springtime? I do not know which! Perhaps the birds know something that I do not. A glimpse at the March page of my calendar shows the official spring arrival date to be weeks away. Do the birds know something that the calendar does not know? Time will give us the answer.
The camellias and daffodils are joining the birds and showing their feelings that spring has arrived early this year. Their colors are beautiful! The whites, variegated, pinks and reds all stand out against the redbud trees that have joined in announcing that the time has come to show their color! There is a story behind many of the flowers and trees in my yard. All were planted or set out by myself and my lifelong partner. I could repeat the story or stories of each but to do so would stir bittersweet memories; I must leave that for another time. There will be occasions for those things in the weeks ahead.
My daughter that lives in Florida will be arriving for a short visit long before this article goes to press. I understand that this week is the beginning time for the Strawberry Festival in Plant City, Florida. The letter came and stirred a lot of memories of those times when I was living in Florida. Strawberry season is at its peak in that part of Florida now. The fields in that area are red with the ripening berries and migrant workers are busy harvesting the crop.
I recall a time when children went to the fields to help to harvest the ripening berries. They could earn I 0 cents a quart. I would often listen to my students talk of their happy experiences while picking the berries and I would think of my own, as a child, while picking cotton!
Memories of those years are crowding in; I must return to now. The red birds are flying from limb to limb, the squirrels dart back and forth among the hedge and in the trees, hundreds of blackbirds can be heard singing their songs. A glance at my calendar and I am reminded that Daylight Saving Time is only a week away.
My memories are crowding me, some are bittersweet, I must stop my writing and go outside and listen to the birds!
The movement among the tree tops reveal the movement of the wind passing by. I am reminded of the lines from the poet’s pen:
Who hath seen the wind,
Neither you nor I –
When the leaves are blowing in the breeze
We know the wind is passing by.
Mr. Shepard is a native of Darlington, S.C., and a current resident of Piedmont, S.C. He is the author of “Mill Town Boy” and “Bruised”. He has been sharing his tales of growing up in Darlington for decades, and we are delighted to share them each week.
His mailing address for cards and letters is: Bill Shepard 324 Sunny Lane, Piedmont, S.C. 29673.