Thursday, April 1, 2010

Oh, How I Miss Frances in April

Spring has come slowly to northeastern Colorado but it has come. As I see the fresh green shoots of perennial plants pushing up through the hard, dry clay soil in my yard I'm reminded of my mother-in-law, Frances Russell, who passed away twenty years ago this month. Reminders of Frances abound in April. She always had chickens in the yard and loved those cantankerous setting hens who hid their eggs around the yard in old tires and buckets, hoping to raise a little family of chicks. But Frances would hunt them down and move their clutches of eggs into the chicken yard so the skunks and raccoons wouldn't eat the eggs and kill the vulnerable hens.

April was when Frances started her tomato seeds in little flats or styrofoam cups and set them on the windowsill of the west-facing window in her living room. They were spindly and pale but she coddled them and when she set them out in late May they thrived in her little garden on the south side of the house.

Frances' yard was unique and those of you who knew her remember it, I'm sure. She grew tulips and lilacs and other hardy flowers nestled in between the rocks, bicycles, tools, and car parts that littered the yard - Doyle's storage space for items he wanted to protect from theft. I miss the walk from her gate up to the front door of the house for I knew that I would always be warmly welcomed and fed her wonderful homemade meals once I got inside.

As I work in my yard today, moving the water hose from tree to tree, trying to keep alive the hardiest of my plants in this drought my thoughts are on Frances, that energetic, bright-eyed, lively woman with a hearty laugh that was a cackle, who could tell a joke with the best of them, and whose presence I miss in my life, especially in April.