Let’s make ‘Yea Day’ a national holiday

I was watching my grandchildren the other day when my granddaughter, Lily, turned to me and said, “Know what, Grandma? I think we should have a Yea Day.”party

“Really?” I asked. “What do you do on Yea Day?”

“We exchange presents, eat cake, and everyone is nice to everyone else,” she said. It was obvious that she had been thinking about it quite a while.

“I see,” I said, intrigued with how she came up with such a great idea. “So, does everyone get presents?”

She nodded enthusiastically, with a grin. “Yep, and everyone plays games and is just, well … nice.”

“I love that idea!” I told her, as we pulled into the driveway.

“So when should we have it?” she asked.

“Have what?”

“Yea Day,” Lily said, almost with impatience. “Grandma, were you even listening to me?”

I laughed to myself. “Of course I was, Lily. When do you think we should have it?”

“Well ….” she started. I could tell she was really thinking about it. “How about Sunday?”

“Maybe we should have it when it warms up so we can go outside and play,” I suggested.

“Oh! How about on your birthday?” she blurted out.

“But then it wouldn’t be special,” I said, looking at the calendar. “April 19 is a Sunday. Why don’t we have it then?”

Her eyes lit up, as if I had just given her the best present in the world.

“Oh, Grandma! That sounds perfect!”

So from now on, April 19 will be Yea Day, the day when everyone is nice to everyone else, and we have cake and have fun, and play games. Maybe it will never be a national holiday, but I guarantee it will become a family tradition.


Almost Spring

Daylight Savings Time seems to baffle some people. When the time comes each fall and spring to set our clocks back or forward an hour, the conversation naturally drifts to the origination of the annoying ritual.

Chloe is looking forward to spring,too. (Photo by Cynthia Petersen)

Chloe is looking forward to spring,too. (Photo by Cynthia Petersen)

According to thetimenow.com, Daylight Savings Time (DST) is a change in the standard time with the purpose of making better use of daylight and conserving energy. And though it has only been used for about 100 years, the idea was used by ancient civilizations to adjust their daily schedules to the Sun’s schedule. For example, the Roman water clocks used different scales for different months.

Daylight Saving Time was first introduced in 1918 when President Woodrow Wilson signed it into law to support the war effort during World War I.

Today, DST starts on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November. Currently, most of the United States observes DST except for Hawaii and most of Arizona, as well as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam.

I was in grade school when we learned about DST. Mrs. Hafer taught us that one easy way to remember which way you move the clocks was to “spring forward” or “fall back.” Not does it help me remember which way to turn the clocks, but I also use it as a way to mentally prepare myself for the changing seasons.

And though I hear a lot of complaints about losing an hour sleep, I don’t mind it at all, because I know warmer weather can’t be far off.

It’s interesting the people of Hawaii and Arizona don’t follow the same protocol as the rest of the nation, but I guess they have their reasons.

I’m just glad spring is almost here.


Spring is in the air

It was a beautiful day-above freezing and sunny anyway-and I felt a strong need to get out and do something. A walk in the park maybe? Or how about some much-needed ice chipping? (The edges of the driveway were still thick with ice, but I decided the sun would take care of most of that.)

The "Lawn Bott"-Photo by Cynthia Petersen

The “Lawn Bott”-Photo by Cynthia Petersen

I decided instead to take in the home and garden show at Hawkeye Downs. Years ago, Hawkeye Downs was the home of the All Iowa Fair, the highlight of my summers as a kid. Now it’s home to trade shows and summer stock car races-and Bingo.

The home and garden show was what you would expect, but because we’ve had such a hard winter, it was cause for celebration. One of the most beautiful displays was decorated by Peck’s (a local flower shop). Their display was a replica of a garden-a garden I can only dream of-with real flowers, bird baths, garden gnomes, and other lawn ornaments.

Other local businesses had their displays up, too, including College Pro Painter (kids making their way through college painting houses) and Revive Chiropractic, a Marion-based business that boasted a new technique to pinpoint pinched nerves and out-of-whack backs.

The one thing that impressed on a techno level, however, was the Lawn Bott. This little machine is programmed to mow your lawn all by itself. Wires are installed under your lawn and you program it when you want your lawn mowed. All for a mere $2,200-installed. The person manning the display told me that there are 4,000 of the Lawn Botts in the US, but I bet there will be many more in the next few years, and at a lower cost.

What did my fiance have to say about this magnificent machine?

“All it needs is a snow blower attachment.” Typical Iowan.

My son sat for an hour listening to the culinary display person talk about how great his pots and pans are. He sampled some of the cuisine and then he headed for the hot tub displays. I guess I know what interests him.

I had a great time just soaking in all the springtime vibes. Winter may not quite be over, but it’s a sure sign spring is coming.

Who’s fooling who?

The birds must think it’s spring.

One of the rites of spring, an Easter egg hunt, held in our front yard March 31. (Photo by Cynthia Petersen)

One of the rites of spring, an Easter egg hunt, held in our front yard March 31. (Photo by Cynthia Petersen)

For the past few days, I have lingered in bed each morning, listening to the beautiful chorus of the birds, trying to decipher their meaning.

“Good morning!” they might be saying. “It’s a bit chilly , but the calendar says that we’re supposed to be singing. Don’t you agree?”

The others reply, “Yes! We are all so happy that winter is over and we can finally get to the worms and lay our eggs!”

But is winter really over? Just because the calendar says so, I have my doubts.

Iowa didn’t really have a spring last year. We went from winter straight into summer, with March temperatures in the 80s.

This year, spring is off to a slow start.  Last week we had a couple of days in the 50s, but this morning, the  temperature is hovering somewhere in the 20s with the highs only promising to be in the 30s.

But when you live in Iowa, you just accept that Mother Nature does what she wants. The weather patterns can be a roller coaster and you can rant about it, become frustrated with the meteorologists, and even put your winter gear away, thinking it will make a difference. But it won’t  change Mother Nature’s agenda.

We can’t discount that it won’t snow, even in April.  According to one local meteorologist, snow has fallen in Iowa as late as May 11.

And I have seen it snow in April many times. I was celebrating my 10th birthday April 8, 1973, when the first few snowflakes began to fall in Cedar Rapids. It tuned into a blizzard that dumped nearly 15 inches of snow on the city. I couldn’t help but think, “What a great birthday present!”

According to a KWWL blog:

“A late season snowstorm brought heavy snow to Iowa, southeastern Minnesota, northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Wind gusts were up to 70 mph blowing the snow into snow drifts as high as 16 feet. Snow totals were commonly reported in the 10-20″ range.

Dubuque: 19.2″
Waterloo: 9.7″ (this pushed Waterloo to the top of the list of Snowiest Aprils)
Cedar Rapids: 14.5″
Belle Plaine 20.2″

The heavy snow and strong wind closed some highways in Iowa.”

My brother and I jumped from the roof of the garage into snow drifts that were nearly as high. Most businesses and all the schools were closed and we walked to the gas station to buy milk, hoping it would be open when we got there.

And then on April 11, the sun came out and melted all the snow.

Spring will come in its own time. The chilly temperatures will give way to warmer days this week and then the birds won’t be so confused.

Little flowers have emerged through the leftover fall leaves and the robins are strutting around the yard like they own it.

We could still get a little snow. But what will it matter? Remember? Mother Nature does what she wants.

However, I’m also beginning to think she has a warped sense of humor.

Spring, finally

For me, spring holds many fascinations.

It isn’t just the  warmer weather that intoxicates me; it’s the rebirth of life itself that makes me appreciate the wonders of nature.

Life at its best

I have always been an outdoors kind of person. I’d spend my days hiking the woods and exploring the unknown terrain by our house. The only reason I would even come in would be to eat or use the bathroom, and even then it was difficult to tear myself away.

But as I grew older, communing with nature kind of lost a bit of meaning for me. Maintaining a home, working, and all those other distractions of life kept me from doing what I wanted to do. I think too, as I matured, that my feelings changed about bugs, worms, and snakes, and I found myself grossed out by them. Camping, something I once enjoyed, really wasn’t as fun as it used to be. The adventure turned into pain, the hard ground taking its toll on my aging body. The creepy, crawly bugs and annoying mosquitoes made me more frustrated than anything, so I often opt out of that type of recreation.

But working in the yard the past few years, playing with my grandkids, and taking long walks in the park, have made me regain some of the pleasures I used to find in spending time outdoors. The calming effect it has on me made me realize that I still find it enjoyable, and remember how much I loved it as a kid. I’m finding that those simple pleasures of seeing a flower make its way through the tough shell of its bud, and the happy songs of the birds, are just reminders that life is a cycle and we are all part of that.

I enjoy, too, seeing the fruits of my labor, knowing that I am helping to beautify the world a little at a time.

In the words of one of my favorite scriptures, this is the way it is supposed to be, the way God intended. The birth, the life, and the death, and the rebirth of everything.

“To  everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the sun; a time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted,; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to lose and a time to seek; a time to rend and a time to sow; a time to keep silent and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8