Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Springtime Beauty in Egypt

In the spring, I feel nothing could be more beautiful than what we enjoy in Southern Illinois. Of course, I feel the same way in the fall. If you are from Southern Illinois, you understand the title of this blog because you know that our region has long been called Egypt. Some call the area Little Egypt, and there are heated objections among the purists as to that little word.

Others of us differ whether we should write southern Illinois or Southern Illinois. As a former English teacher, I would say that southern Illinois is correct. As someone who loves the area and sees it as a very distinct entity, I choose to write Southern Illinois. We are also sometimes called The Land Between the Rivers or River Region. Whatever we are called, we have four seasons, which is one of the reasons I wanted to live out my life in the region of my birth. Like most people living here, my favorites are spring and fall.

Right now I am intent on enjoying spring. (I can barely resist capitalizing spring. I just checked the Associated Press stylebook on my desk, and I was correct not to capitalize a season. And yet I almost went back and capitalized Spring and Fall anyhow! For me this season brings the emotions that call for capital letters and exclamation points.)

Gerald’s brother Keith and nephew Tim have grown beef for our freezers, and Gerald and Keith took them down to Kentucky recently to have them butchered there by an Amish butchering shop. Monday they will go bring back the processed beef. This is the first time in a few years since we have purchased a beef. So yesterday my friend Linda came and helped me defrost the freezer in our garage to get ready for this abundance.

Yesterday was a great day to do this task since it was not miserably cold, and yet it was cool enough that I didn’t worry as we emptied the freezer contents into tubs and buckets and covered them with blankets while we did the defrosting and cleaning work. At the other farm house, my daughters used to be enlisted to help me do this job. I don’t want to waste much time lest foods start to thaw. At that house, the freezer in the laundry room was right next to the children’s bathroom, and we could store the frozen foods in the bathtub and cover with blankets while we cleaned.

A few bits and pieces of previous meals that I had saved when my thriftiness was in overdrive had to be thrown out. Quite a few items I’d saved and forgotten were placed in the refrigerator to be eaten in yesterday and today’s meals. I thawed a beef roast and prepared it today since we will be getting this new supply Monday.

I would be lying if I did not admit that I feel smug every time I pass the freezer and imagine all that nice clean empty space inside thanks to all the sorting and rearranging we accomplished.

With the lovely weather, I have also made a start at cleaning out the flower beds—something that did not get done last fall. I have carried away four bags of leaves, weeds, and dead plants to add to the organic material out in the field. Gerald has rolled the lawn and mowed it for the first time. The beautiful green is so intense that the many blossoms on trees and flowers give a welcome relief. There is still work to be done, and if the predicted rain comes tomorrow, that will be the end of working in the yard for awhile.

Maybe that will help me get to the bills and letter writing duties awaiting me on my kitchen desk.

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