Friday, April 25, 2014

Dandelions - The Yellows of Spring - 1

     "Spring... makes everything young except man," said Jean Paul Friedrich (1763-1825).
     Who would have thought that 251 years later (2014) he was accurate in his assumption.  Just the sight of a single bright yellow Dandelion flower in a sea of manicured green grass can turn a man's hair gray before summer.  He'll waste much green money fighting this pretty weed flower that has so many cheerful and useful purposes besides trying to kill it, because he wants the perfect lawn - no weeds.  Man gets his dander flying faster than a speeding bullet and wants that beautiful flower eradicated from his eyesight.  One perky flower is all it takes for herbicide men to start spreading weed killers to appease the homeowners disgust.
     To children the tall yellow flowers are picked and presented to mothers - the first spring bouquets of their love.  It's the only flower children can rightfully pick without being scolded.  Mom's should put them in a flower vase and not empty peanut butter jars.  A dandelion flower keeps mom young, too, when she's been cooped up in the house during our longer than normal winter. 
     Spring finally arrived in Michigan on April 23rd in the bright afternoon sun with the blossoming of Forsythia flowers. Our 114 inch snowfall is but a bad memory of a hard winter of numbing cold and deep snow.   Before I continue I'm going to let George Santayana, the Spanish-born philosopher and poet who spent many years at Harvard (1889-1911) and Oxford explain what sets in motion "Spring."
     When Santayana came into a sizable legacy, he relinquished his post on the Harvard faculty.  His classroom was packed for his final appearance and Santayana in true passion did himself proud.  He was concluding his remarks when outside the window he saw a Forsythia beginning to bloom in a patch of muddy snow.   His speech stopped abruptly.  His eyes were fixed upon the yellow blossoms and he stooped down and picked up his hat, gloves and walking stick and walked towards the door.  There he turned around and said, "Gentlemen," he said softly, "I shall not be able to finish that last sentence.  I have just discovered I have an appointment with April."   It's called Spring.
     Albert Einstein, the German-born physicist was teaching class when he spotted a bright Forsythia blooming outside the classroom window.  He stopped lecturing on mathematical formulas just long enough to pick up his hat and coat, opened the window, turned around and sat on the window ledge and bid his students goodbye.  He had a date with Spring. 
     I guess sometimes we've just got to act a little bit crazy and stop our merry-go-round lives and enjoy the sights and fragrances on the first day of Spring.  It makes mankind act irresponsible, but it resets his course for a new beginning.
     As the warming sun increases ground temperatures new Dandelion greens are appearing and bud formations are setting, and I say, "Oh, the perils of men spotting shark tooth Dandelion greens in his perfect luxury lawn."  He knows what will happen.  His blood boils at the first sight of yellow.  
     Wow!  Homeowners go practically insane and as nuts they'll expound volumes to the herbicide men that what they apply isn't working.  What most men don't understand is that there are three different species of Dandelions that bloom from April to November and no other weeds will grow next to it.  This weed exudes ethylene gas that discourages other weeds from growing next to them.  Kill them only lets other undesirables take their place if they don't remove the plant.  It's a vicious cycle to keep a lawn of green in Spring.
     The "Yellows of Spring" are here and that includes Daffodils (Lent Lily), Tulips and Marsh Marigolds (Elkslip-favorite food of elk-only), Forsythias and Dandelions (Priest's-crown).  The later is the scourge of over obsessive men like our Pastor VanderWest who dislikes, I should say, hates the most beautiful flower God created.  I've been known to pick a Dandelion stalk with flower and place it under his windshield wiper.  I just can't help myself.  My halo still flickers.  If he were a cat his back would bristle at the sight or feel of a Dandelion flower under his feet. (to be continued).

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

One Pair of Hands - In Memory of Keith Eadie

       Keith Eadie of Rockford, MI had one pair of hands, but had no eyes to see.  He could play an acoustical guitar for those in the audience attending the Tuesday mornings "Country Gospel" in the Rockford Ambulance Barn community room.  Although blind he could play just about any song with the exception of Ghost Riders in the Sky as sung by Sons of Pioneers and Planet Texas by Kenny Rodgers.  These were my favorite songs and it wasn't that he couldn't, but he loved pick n' playin' classic old country and gospel songs.  Keith's sudden death from a massive heart attack in early February stunned his friends young and old.
       You see, Keith was a member of the Rogue River Band.  He, with George Rollenhagen, Ray Eadie and Deb Eadie and associates traveled around playing music at various venues each week.  Like most musicians they had to practice songs before they raised roofs.  His mother, Karen, drove him around to various musical functions and Keith sat in his chair and enjoyed the Sunday evening concerts down in the Rockford Park near the dam.  A church member saw him sitting one night and they invited him up to play a tune on one of their guitars.  His blind white stick he carried on his waist, but on a hot night in July 2013 the lead guitarist came off stage and led him by the arm to the stage.  Keith always wore a smile no matter what he was doing and he always would welcome you to wherever he was pickin'.
       Keith was an approachable man and quick to crack a smile or joke.  It was a sad couple of weeks after he passed away, but Keith loved the Lord and he enjoyed what little of life he never saw.  I didn't know much about Keith, but a few evenings I sat beside him in the park and he never complained about his lot in life.  He was always upbeat and thankful for good ham radio and musical friends.
       He was happy serving the Lord and providing music to anyone who would sit down and listen.  He had one pair of hands to play the guitar and mandolin.  Often times he wore both instruments at the ambulance barn and for Flo's Country & Gospel Jamboree just south of Big Rapids in August 2012 & 2013.  He played nearly every song for nearly four hours along with up to 24 other guitarists, mandolins players with accordions and harmonicas all joining in the musical celebrations of life. 
       It was quite the show hearing this many musicians playing together.  The country gospel music flowed out across Rodgers Pond and Dam across the road and no doubt the sound carried down the Muskegon River valley several miles.  He could sure pack away the food and musical notes.
       One Tuesday morning several weeks after his death the Rogue River Band and associates were playing "One Pair of Hands" when at 10:08 a.m. the wind stopped to visit.  Nobody can see the wind, we could hear it and we can see the effects the winds footprint leaves on grass, sand, trees, but especially water, window curtains and yes, even doors. 
       The ambulance door opened wide to bright sunshine and Ray Eadie said, "Welcome" and in walked the spirit of Keith who came to visit.  I'd like to think that Keith came inside to visit his old haunt to check up on the gang that listened to his music for years.  He walked down the aisles looking into the faces of those he never saw and he saw they were happy.  He was raised up on the wings of eagles.
       Seven minutes later at 10:15, the door opened again, but only half way.  His spirit scooted out, but returned at 10:55.  The door opened wider and the third time I closed it.  It'd be nice to think he found his old friend Ron Pine, who was the band leader for many years.  Ron died several years ago.  Maybe their spirits walked down opposite aisles and noted they had indeed left footprints for others to follow and were born to ride the winds of eternity and then at exactly 11:08 a.m. the door gently opened and they left knowing the band lives on in their memory.  Both were riding the winds of time "On Happy Trails."
       Both are now resting in "One Pair of Hands."