Remember that rhyme we used to recite when we were kids: “Spring has sprung/the grass is riz/I wonder where the flowers is”? Nerve-grating grammar aside, the calendar and Mother Nature seem to have finally decided to realign themselves. Although I think spring has sprung a couple of times this year already, at last we are experiencing a lovely version of the real thing.
After forty springs in the classroom with teenagers, I can say with authority that the season of renewal may be the most difficult season for teaching. Tennyson knew that way back in 1835 when he penned: “in the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love”; but it is not just the guys. One upcoming distraction from academic pursuit is the current prom season: the decorating, the dresses, the shoes, the hair, the flowers.
And it is not just love either. Outdoor athletics and warm temperatures are overshadowing algebra homework and history class, as we speak. It takes very little to turn a teenager’s thoughts away from school at this time of year.
I experienced my own attack of spring fever this week, with my fancy turning this way and that and back again. Among the attention turners: Facebook photos of morels posted by successful mushroom hunters.
My parents used to load us kids in a trailer hooked to the tractor and drive us into the woods to hunt our favorite fungi. My father always gathered the most, but the rest of us were thrilled to find just one or two. We checked all the historically-plentiful spots: back in the northeast corner by the fence, in a large stand of mayapples, around a fallen log.
To us, there was just one way to cook nature’s bounty – dredged in flour and fried in butter. Really, is there anything tastier than a crispy morel mushroom fresh from the skillet? Yum!
By the way, Ingrid’s husband Hubert is a mushroom expert who organizes seminars and leads walks to observe various species in their Northern Germany habitat. One summer Hubert handed me a book filled with photos of mushrooms throughout the world and asked me to point out the ones native to Ohio. He was more than concerned when the morel I identified turned out to be a deadly African fungus, especially after my mouth-watering description of the encrusted delicacies in all their buttery yumminess…
Another photograph provided me with equal doses of adorability and nostalgia. There was my great-niece holding hands with her day-care classmates as they sang an Easter song. She was all decked out in one of those little girl dresses – all white and springily pastel – as well as a paper hat sporting bunny ears.
The sight of that cute little moppet spun me back to the scene of an Urbana Methodist Preschool program some thirty years ago when the modern toddler’s father participated in a similar performance – complete with pink-paper-plate piggy proboscis.
My recollections kept rolling along as I perused oodles of pictures from Easter Sunday, many showing former students proudly posing with their offspring. It is quite the experience to see what becomes of those kids – alternately silly and irritating in the classroom so many years ago – as they themselves morph into parents who will soon be herding their own teens through the tricky years of adolescence.
There was even more déjà vu on the Graham musical stage during the GHS presentation of Guys and Dolls directed by Polly Wilbur Trenor, daughter of retired music teacher Allen Wilbur – who put on the same show almost twenty years ago. The likes of Sky Masterson, Sarah Brown, Nathan Detroit, Miss Adelaide, and Nicely-Nicely, under the direction of Ruth Peirson and Peggy Bowers, also entertained theater-goers four decades ago. Sitting in that 1975 audience were the future grandparents of performers in this year’s production. The very definition of time flying by…
All in all, it seems that my stray spring thoughts turned out to be even more random than usual. I finally filed my taxes. Mine are never particularly complex, so there is no satisfactory explanation for my customary procrastination. Nonetheless, I thought for the thousandth time that this annual government requirement should not be complicated at all. I firmly believe the exercise should be as simple as possible – not a loophole-laden mess of confusing forms that confound even the experts.
There were other amazements momentarily diverting my attention during last week’s spring days. After her pregnancy was live-streamed for almost 16 months, April the giraffe finally gave birth to her new baby at an adventure park in New York. And contrary to preseason predictions, the Reds are at the top of their division.
Sadly, I no longer have students to entertain – or torture – vocally, so I will share my mother’s spring tradition in this forum. Every April Mother sang this ditty to us:
April showers may come your way/they bring the flowers that bloom in May/So if it’s raining, have no regrets/It isn’t raining rain, you know/it’s raining violets/And when you see clouds upon the hill/soon you’ll see crowds of daffodils/So keep looking for the bluebird/ and listen for his song/whenever April showers come along.
Al Jolson may have had a better set of pipes when he sang it on Broadway in the 20’s, but I would love to hear my mother’s rendition just one more time.
Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.