Well, let’s start with the obvious. I debated about whether this blog post should be about sharing my deep thoughts regarding the COVID-19 crisis or whether to just keep it light and share about some of the wonderful things that are happening around here. I’ve decided that with all that’s going on, and with the approach of Holy Week, we have enough hard stuff to dwell on, so I’m going to go with an upbeat post this time around. I’ll save the deep thoughts for later.
Happy April! Springtime has hit Appalachia in full glory. Our mountainsides are blushing with the many shades of green as tulip poplars and the big-leaf magnolias spring forth (pun intended!) their new leaves. Interspersed among them are the purple hues of the blooming redbuds, the white of the serviceberry (“sarvusburry” if you’re a local) and the cream of the dogwoods, each bringing with it a cold snap timed with the bloom. This past week, we fired up the woodstove again as we passed through “redbud winter” and in a couple more weeks, it’ll be time for “dogwood winter”. By the middle of May, “blackberry winter” will have many scratching their heads, wondering how it could possibly be so cold in May, yet “blackberry winter” in May is as predictable as the springtime. My mid-western city-raised husband laughs at these local colloquialisms that I grew up with, but has come to accept that mountain folk have their own colorful ways of explaining the world around them.
|Photo I took on St. Joseph's Day just as the sun started to peak out of the clouds.|
In our own social distancing/ homeschooling/ homesteading way, which really hasn’t been much different than our life before COVID-19, we’ve been celebrating the feasts and fasts of the Lenten Season. At this point, I want to send a big thank you to Kendra at Catholic All Year for her continual inspiration in helping us keep the faith at home. I follow her blog religiously (pun intended again!) for her perspective and ideas and lately, it has been invaluable as I’ve searched for ways to have church and now Holy Week at home. Thank you, Kendra!
St. Joseph’s Day is always a big deal at our home and this year, I attempted gluten-free cinnamon rolls. They weren’t terrible. Succeeding at gluten-free pastry making has been my last big hurdle in this gluten free lifestyle that we adopted three years ago in order to improve my children’s mental health. I try to avoid xanthan gum and other additives, so have yet to find a gluten-free flour mix that I’m satisfied with when it comes to baking, but I’m getting closer. All that to say, these cinnamon rolls were devoured by my family, proving yet again that even a hockey puck would be a delicacy to a 9-year-old if you just smothered it with butter and sugar!
A few days later, we celebrated the Annunciation with some fresh flowers in the home, and ribs for supper, both definitely not something we’d do during Lent. And, as he did on St. Joseph’s Day, God blessed us with a beautiful sunny day, which was not part of the weather forecast, as we’ve been plodding through day after day after day of rain since last year ended. I was so grateful for some sunshine and much needed Vitamin D that obviously couldn’t come at a better time.
All that sunshine brought out the dandelions and of course, we had to have some for dinner! My kids love to eat fried dandelion flowers and we never have leftovers. Picking them this year seemed especially significant considering the amazing health benefits found in all parts of the dandelion plant. Combined with a little sunshine, I’m hopeful that our immune systems got a much needed boost during the past couple of weeks.
With the cancellation of public masses across the country, our family has been doing “home church” and it has been very successful! Tom and Joah normally play the music at our church for mass anyway, so we have the advantage of still having live music just as we would at mass every Sunday. We follow a dry mass outline very similar to the one Kendra recently described on her blog, and Tom gives a little “homily”, which is usually an explanation of the Sunday readings and gospel. We get dressed for home church just like we would if we were going to mass, and it has been a good way to teach the kids that we don’t dress up for church so that others can see us, but rather, because Jesus can see us. Of course, it’s not even close to being the same as going to mass, but it has certainly helped us keep our Sundays still feeling like Sunday. For Palm Sunday, we are going to use some fronds from a yucca plant growing on our property and process around the homestead. I suppose the chickens and dog will enjoy joining us! I suspect maybe there were a few feral animals in the procession when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, so I guess it’ll be somewhat authentic.
So that has been my therapy during these challenging and scary times, i.e., keeping things as much the same as possible. Sure, it could all change tomorrow, but that is nothing new. No day comes with a guarantee, but the seasons do, and in this season, we are planting our potatoes, celebrating the arrival of the hummingbirds (they arrived yesterday!), picking dandelions, wondering at wildflowers, and trying to stay close to Jesus by not tearing each other apart. And lest I dig into my deeper thoughts, as I have already promised not to do, I will stop there. The sun is shining outside my window and I have yucca fronds to pick. Happy Palm Sunday! Easter is near.