Tag Archives: spring

April Awakening

I’ve always loved the springtime—especially the warm embrace of April. Of all the seasons, I’m inclined to say that it is my favorite—partly because baseball is back and the school year is drawing its last breath, but mostly because it is an era awash with newness. Almost indescribably so. Wisps of green now dot the underbrush, as if God had been handed a paintbrush and was then asked to create something slightly magnificent. Likewise, daffodils and forsythia, bathed in brilliant yellows, have been summoned from the places where shades of gray have lived for far too long. Lilac and cherry blossoms, too, are poised to burst with a profusion of muted hues and the sweet scents of spring. Armies of tulips will soon follow, standing straight and tall in the midday sun. Never mind the rain that must fall.

Indeed, the creatures of this season move me, too. The melodies of more songbirds than I can readily name fill the air along with the serenade of crickets—legions of them, welcoming each night as the woods grow thick with darkness and alive with a symphony of sound. Before long, the yellow-green flashes of fireflies will entrance my children, prompting them to give chase, mayonnaise jars in hand—but not yet. This is springtime and the earth feels soft and yielding beneath my feet, rekindling memories of running barefoot as a child, the cool blades of grass and spongy patches of moss mingling intimately with my toes. The same toes, mind you, that have begged to be reacquainted with the deliciousness of leather sandals since mid-February. The calendar assures me that the time is nigh and that the months ahead are certain to bring both warmth and goodness to the land. Springtime, it seems, is pregnant with possibility, which is yet another reason I love it so.

Or maybe it’s because all three of my children were born in the thick of April. Aries babies. Tiny souls destined for equal shares of independence and optimism, despite the vast array of frailties that came with being frighteningly preterm. As one might expect, I worried about umbilical cords, fontanels and cries I had yet to decipher. I think it was there in the hospital, amidst the haze of becoming a mother again and again, where I first recognized how unspeakably euphoric this season of new beginnings made me feel. How I could look outside my window at the verdant landscape below, all the splendor of spring unfolding before me, and then marvel, in the very same breath, at the bundles of neediness I had helped create—the ones with fuzzy, sweet-smelling heads and impossibly tiny toes, the babes I would soon rock in the creaky chair that had been my great grandmother’s.

Somehow, seeing the buds and the birds and the medley of green filled me with a tangible sense of hope and enthusiasm for whatever the future might bring. The sleepless nights and debilitating bouts of self-doubt I would surely encounter seemed almost manageable in the context of Mother Nature’s grand awakening. Deep within, I believed that no matter how ineptly I nursed the smallish beings in question or how spectacularly wrong I swaddled said infants, all would be well. My parenting days, though stunningly imperfect, would fill my cup, bind me inextricably to my brood and leave me wondering how I ever functioned without them. The spring had arrived after all, and the canvas of my world had been painted with broad strokes of vibrant color and punctuated with untold joy.

Of course, it could just be the birthdays we celebrate at this time of year that make the season so special. There are four if you count my husband’s—all within a span of three weeks—and I can’t help but indelibly etch in my mind all the cakes and candles, all the meals at fancy restaurants with friends and family and the countless parties with giddified bunches of little girls crowding around to see what bit of wonderfulness so-and-so happened to have unwrapped. And let us not forget theslumber parties. Lord knows I won’t.

Then again, it might simply be Easter, the mother of grand awakenings, that makes

this time so very dear. Egg hunts and wicker baskets. Frilly dresses and shiny shoes. Palm fronds and penitence. Spiritually stirring events that cause me to ponder the true meaning of awakening, rendering me awestruck far beyond the month of April.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (savoring every drop of spring).

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Footloose and Fancy-free

Here we are—a mere five weeks into spring—and already it’s time. Time to fire up the grill and dust off the mower. To haul out the picnic table and spruce up the lawn chairs. To fish for golf clubs and ball gloves and those glorious little tubs of sidewalk chalk without which I could not effectively parent. Time to paw through our summertime wardrobe for the Bermudas we pray aren’t too snug and to put away the parka—for good. We’re tired of the wretched thing anyway.

What’s more, it’s finally time to bid farewell to those insufferable snow shovels and subzero temperatures. Time to embrace the sun’s warmth and to feast our eyes upon all-that-is-green-and-growing. We deserve it. Winter’s been long and unforgiving, and the ice it bore assuredly played no favorites.

Indeed, it is time.

Even without the aforementioned harbingers of summer, I know the season of suntans and sweet corn is nigh. My sandals tell me so. They beg to be pulled from the depths of my closet where they’ve gathered dust since late October—a Hippie-ish heap of worn and weathered leather that has been all but forgotten. Out of sight, out of mind. They long to taste sweet freedom, to feel the fresh air upon their hide and to soak up the sun like there’s no tomorrow. I don’t blame them. My toes have pined for much the same since the first snow. And now that the warmth has returned to the Northern Hemisphere, the vast majority of my sensible-and-sissified footwear is in effect history. It’s far too unadventurous for my taste anyway.

My friend, Kathy (a woman after my own heart), is equally smitten with her sandals. Tevas, I think. The ones dipped in kryptonite and steeped in wonderfulness. That said, unless measurable snow has fallen and happens to impede her path, she wears them year round—with woolen socks, of course, for those unbearably chilly mornings come January. For my spunky hairdresser, Deb, it’s the chance to go barefooted she truly relishes—whenever and wherever the mood strikes. Shoes, begone!

My kids, however, have a slightly different view on the subject. My oldest daughter has virtually lived in flip-flops forever, sampling all the lovely hues known to man. In fact, I struggle to recall a time when she didn’t own a pair—or a dozen—or when I didn’t feel compelled to tell her to pick the blasted things up and take care of them already. As for my youngest charges, it is their beloved Crocs that whisper to them unremittingly, demanding to be worn, beckoning from the recesses of our hall closet. Oddly enough, they’re not as impassioned about sandals or bare feet; although the flip-flop obsession has struck from time to time. And the prevailing weather is a non-issue in their imprudent little minds. Instead, the calendar is king.

“It’s spring, Mom! Now I can wear my Crocs!” Needless to say, my heathens have been schlepping around in the silly things ever since the lions of March roared in. Sans socks—gasp! Thus far, however, I have won the battle over wearing them to school. But I’m losing the war, which bears an uncanny resemblance to last spring’s Croc-related debate. Arrrrrg.

“Come on, Mom; it’s really HOT during recess. So-and-so’s mom lets her wear Crocs to school and nothing bad ever happened to her feet,” my charges allege, attempting to shame me into allowing that which will make me crazy with worry for the entire school day. (That, coupled with the completely unfounded fear that they will be trampled to death by a herd of third-graders en route to the cafeteria, many of whom will be sporting Crocs).

Naturally, I fight the urge to employ scare tactics (doused with sarcasm) in response: “Go ahead and wear your stupid Crocs! But if you break your ankles, don’t come running to me!” Instead, I opt for something more like: “So-and-so doesn’t live here, does she?”

“No, but if she did, she wouldn’t like it.”

Enough said. I am the most horrible mother on the face of the earth. One who has the audacity to wear less-than-protective footwear in front of the children simply to torment them.

Eventually, I will cave. The mercury will continue to climb and my argument will fail. They will wear their moronic, slippity-dippity Crocs to school and I will be forced to overcome the apprehension I feel over the fate of their feet. Woe is me.

Thankfully I can slip into my comfy sandals—a happy hypocrite—and forget about the whole ordeal.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (in sandals much of the time).

Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Spring Fling

April Awakening

I’ve always loved the springtime—especially the warm embrace of April. Of all the seasons, I’m inclined to say that it is my favorite—partly because baseball is back and the school year is drawing its last breath, but mostly because it is an era awash with newness. Almost indescribably so. Wisps of green now dot the underbrush, as if God had been handed a paintbrush and was then asked to create something slightly magnificent. Likewise, daffodils and forsythia, bathed in brilliant yellows, have been summoned from the places where shades of gray have lived for far too long. Lilac and cherry blossoms, too, are poised to burst with a profusion of muted hues and the sweet scents of spring. Armies of tulips will soon follow, standing straight and tall in the midday sun. Never mind the rain that must fall.

Indeed, the creatures of this season move me, too. The melodies of more songbirds than I can readily name fill the air along with the serenade of crickets—legions of them, welcoming each night as the woods grow thick with darkness and alive with a symphony of sound. Before long, the yellow-green flashes of fireflies will entrance my children, prompting them to give chase, mayonnaise jars in hand—but not yet. This is springtime and the earth feels soft and yielding beneath my feet, rekindling memories of running barefoot as a child, the cool blades of grass and spongy patches of moss mingling intimately with my toes. The same toes, mind you, that have begged to be reacquainted with the deliciousness of leather sandals since mid-February. The calendar assures me that the time is nigh and that the months ahead are certain to bring both warmth and goodness to the land. Springtime, it seems, is pregnant with possibility, which is yet another reason I love it so.

Or maybe it’s because all three of my children were born in the thick of

April. Aries babies. Tiny souls destined for equal shares of independence and optimism, despite the vast array of frailties that came with being frighteningly preterm. As one might expect, I worried about umbilical cords, fontanels and cries I had yet to decipher. I think it was there in the hospital, amidst the haze of becoming a mother again and again, where I first recognized how unspeakably euphoric this season of new beginnings made me feel. How I could look outside my window at the verdant landscape below, all the splendor of spring unfolding before me, and then marvel, in the very same breath, at the bundles of neediness I had helped create—the ones with fuzzy, sweet-smelling heads and impossibly tiny toes, the babes I would soon rock in the creaky chair that had been my great grandmother’s.

Somehow, seeing the buds and the birds and the medley of green filled me with a tangible sense of hope and enthusiasm for whatever the future might bring. The sleepless nights and

debilitating bouts of self-doubt I would surely encounter seemed almost manageable in the context of Mother Nature’s grand awakening. Deep within, I believed that no matter how ineptly I nursed the smallish beings in question or how spectacularly wrong I swaddled said infants, all would be well. My parenting days, though stunningly imperfect, would fill my cup, bind me inextricably to my brood and leave me wondering how I ever functioned without them. The spring had arrived after all, and the canvas of my world had been painted with broad strokes of vibrant color and punctuated with untold joy.

Of course, it could just be the birthdays we celebrate at this time of year that make the season so special. There are four if you count my husband’s—all within a span of three weeks—and I can’t help but indelibly etch in my mind all the cakes and candles, all the meals at fancy restaurants with friends and family and the countless parties with giddified bunches of little girls crowding around to see what bit of wonderfulness so-and-so happened to have unwrapped. And let us not forget the slumber parties. Lord knows I won’t.

Then again, it might simply be Easter, the mother of grand awakenings, that makes this time so very dear. Egg hunts and wicker baskets. Frilly dresses and shiny shoes. Palm fronds and penitence. Spiritually stirring events that cause me to ponder the true meaning of awakening, rendering me awestruck far beyond the month of April.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (savoring every drop of spring).

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under A Tree is Nice

Cloudy with a Chance of Gnats

Lately I feel as though I’ve been thrust onto the set of a horror film. One in which the entire planet has been overtaken by a massive swarm of gnats—those unspeakably irksome creatures that I despise beyond all comprehension. Everywhere, it seems, the winged beasts are expertly poised to attack, kamikaze style—on packed playgrounds, in busy parking lots, in back yards brimming with picnickers and across vast expanses of athletic fields, lush with slick, green grass. Armies of said clusters-of-doom stand ready (they hover, actually) to unleash their merciless wrath upon the innocent and upon the fools who neglect or refuse to douse themselves with bug spray.

I have to wonder, what exactly is the purpose of the gnat—aside from wreaking havoc upon the civilized world one sufficiently annoyed being at a time? They must lurk near the bottom of the food chain, I’d surmise, serving as sacrificial sustenance for bats or birds or something toad-ish. Gak!

That said, whenever I venture outside it’s as if my head is a giant nucleus besieged by a cloud of deranged, piranha-like, helter-skelter-inspired electrons—ones inclined to gnaw upon my flesh, to become entangled in my hair, to buzz incessantly in my ears, to viciously invade my nasal cavities and to perhaps bore inside my brain where they would then read my thoughts and replace them with the idiotic notions of Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh.

Feels like a horror flick, remember?

Quite frankly, I’m sick and tired of inhaling the wretched things, of fishing their sodden carcasses from my eyes and of waving my arms like a madwoman just so I can string two coherent sentences together while conversing with someone in the great outdoors. Someone, ostensibly, flapping like a lunatic as well.

“Just keep talking!” I shout, “Never mind this insanely stupid-looking flurry of clapping and slapping and grabbing fistfuls of what I hope are DEAD BUGS! I’m still listening to you…(insert horrendous hacking noises and the sound of spitting out wads of freshly moistened gnats)…really, I am!”

Viewed from afar, and from the encapsulated havens of cars, those plagued by the loathsome vermin must truly look like a bunch of loons, swinging wildly in the air, lunging erratically to and fro, cursing at the demons thought to exist just inches away. Straightjacket material.

Yep. That’s me. The dolt on the soccer field at dusk. Wishing like crazy that I had worn a hat…so I could whack the bejesus out of them. At least there’s some satisfaction in that. “Squishing gnats—it does a body good.” Mine, that is. Not the gnat’s so much. Indeed, there’s something inherently cathartic about the process of snuffing the life out of a bothersome bug and, of course, my brood gets a huge charge out of the sadistic commentary that generally follows.

“Are you the next of kin, my dears?”  (My heathens nod, eagerly awaiting the punch line)

“Well, in my expert medical opinion, Mr. Gnat had a horrible headache……..right before he became entirely flat. He is dead, I am afraid.”

It’s a completely different matter, however, when something not-so-gnat-ish dies. There are tears, rambling eulogies and makeshift tombstones (etched with names like Pooper, Froggy and Slimy) for beloved souls like tadpoles, frogs and even worms. Cats receive lengthy graveside services as one would expect and pet goldfish, a ceremonial burial at sea with a woeful dirge softly wafting in the background. Taps usually.

Gnats, on the other hand, are the scum of the earth and infinitely expendable, methinks.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (cursing at gnats and whatnot).

Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Daily Chaos, Me Myself and I, Rantings & Ravings

Spring Training’s Gone to the Dogs

Not so long ago, I attempted (and, for all intents and purposes, failed) to housetrain my dog. That said, it was an exasperating affair that caused me unspeakable grief and torment.

In disbelief I crane my neck to find the source, scanning the skies while the faint yet relentless honking and squawking of Canada geese filters to my ears from high above—a wayward trail of dots scattered across a brilliant blue canvas, inching ever northward as one. Each year the scenario is the same; I am awed by the magnificence of such an event. Inspired by its significance. Reminded, once again, of its meaning—that spring has finally arrived. That long-awaited season of growth and renewal is upon us at last, despite its fits and starts throughout the fickle month of March. It’s the elixir of life—bottled abundantly in the form of sunshine, green leafiness and the incessant twitter of songbirds.

Likewise, the advent of baseball season and its much-heralded prologue, Spring Training, remind me that we are on the cusp of something wonderful. I only wish it were so with respect to the “spring training” of my dog, Jack. That feels more like teetering on the edge of despair—as if I’m doomed to spend the rest of my days trying to get a persnickety pooch to piddle and poo in the right place. Preferably outdoors. Without adopting a colony of ticks and/or fleas in the process. Quite frankly, it’s been a challenge beyond almost any I have ever faced—which baffles me to no end. I potty-trained three kids, after all.

I just don’t get it. The task itself doesn’t look all that difficult. For years I’ve watched people take little jaunts with their dogs and thought, “That’s not so tough—a monkey could probably walk a dog and make him pee. Why don’t I get a dog? Then I’d get more exercise and fresh air and all that good stuff. Yeah, a dog would be nice.”

Little did I know, training said tail-wagger would be an exasperating affair—one that would cause me unspeakable grief and demand that I devour each and every syllable of the assertions I had so erroneously made.

Mostly, I think it’s because the dog in question isn’t particularly interested in seeing that I achieve my objective—getting him to relieve himself in a timely fashion in the appropriate location, with or without treats and an inordinate amount of cajoling. His objective, apparently, carries far more appeal—that which involves stumbling upon and inspecting (but hopefully, not eating) all-that-is-completely-deplorable-and-dreadfully-repulsive on the face of the earth. Stuff like deer droppings, cigarette butts, wads of chewing gum and discarded Band-Aids, snippets of carrion and, of course, dog dung—at all stages of decomposition deserve an untold degree of scrutiny. His fuzzy snout, it seems, is keenly drawn to every speck of foulness that lurks in our path. The ranker the entity, the better—in his beady little eyes.

My function: to plant myself there at the end of the leash like a dutiful dolt until he is completely satisfied with having sniffed-to-death whatever it was that piqued his interest in the first place, feigning both patience and understanding. Further, as his loyal companion I must tolerate his sinfully erratic movements and delusions of grandeur that center around an unwavering belief that he is a draft horse on a mission to haul me into a neighboring county. How an eight-pound ball of fluff can drag me anywhere is beyond me. But he does; and is happy to do so, huffing and puffing, his tongue flapping all the way—to the next bit of repulsiveness, that is. “Who knows,” I reason, “…maybe that will be the ‘bit of repulsiveness’ that makes him deposit his own ‘bit of repulsiveness!’”

So when we do finally decide to venture out into the world at large, I suppose it should be no surprise to me that the muttonhead acts like a deranged squirrel, skittering hither and yon in an absolute panic over the feast for the senses bestowed upon him. It’s the ultimate canine smorgasbord, featuring a whole host of odoriferous items that must be classified somewhere on that hideous Stench Scale. Needless to say, I hold on tight lest he yank my shoulder out of its socket.

As luck would have it, my charges often tag along for the festivities, scouring great patches of earth for evidence of poo. Shouts of, “Fresh poopie alert, Mom! Let Jack smell it quick!” can be heard far and wide.

Like the geese, I suppose it’s yet another harbinger of spring. Then again, I’ve been told I don’t know Jack.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live. Visit me there at www.notesfromplanetmom.com.

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Doggie Diamonds, Rantings & Ravings, Vat of Complete Irreverence