By Wenda Grabau
The days are getting longer. Do you feel new energy swelling in your heart and mind? Can you hear the trill of the blackbirds singing in your neighborhood? Spring is my favorite season. The world awakes from its slumber and displays its God-given beauty.
Last fall, a friend gave me several potted plants that she had been nurturing. I learned that I could leave the bulbous plants indoors without watering them over the winter. That is just what I did.
But, in late February, I mercifully gave one a drink. Not long afterward I noticed green sprouts emerging from the bulbs. In the throes of winter’s storms and cold, this sparkle of springtime invited my gaze. The awakening bulb captured my attention. With interest I watched as it changed each day.
The singular bud atop the towering stem grew upwards and began to swell. As it opened, three smaller buds appeared and greeted each morning’s sunshine. By now it became apparent that the gifts I had been given were amaryllis plants. I had never had one before.
One morning, the buds opened fully. Looking into the face of such a glorious bloom it seemed to me like I was enjoying a breath of springtime. As the plant sat on my dining room table, the crimson blossoms greeted me each day. I admired the flower’s bold, colorful beauty every time I walked by.
A second amaryllis gift awaited its debut in my bay window. It looked dead. I gave it a drink. A few days later, it too began to show signs of life. Today, that bloom is fully open. It is a cheerful, bright orange in color.
I passed one of my gifts on to my daughter. Her plant has outstanding double-blooms of pure white. We have all benefited from this lovely gift from our friend. There are still two other plants yet to awaken from their slumber. I can hardly wait to see them.
My friend may not have realized how dear her gift to us was. In her love of plants, she willingly shared it with me and my family. Those plants cheered me, encouraging me to make it through a wintry season with hope alive in my heart. My hope was for a season of renewal.
Wintry seasons don’t just happen on the calendar. They appear in a spiritual sense, too. Is there some sort of gift…a card, a phone call or letter, maybe a flower or coffee together… that you can use to share with someone who needs the hope of a season of renewal? Your friendship may bring a new burst of hope to that person.
You may not think that you can be such an encouragement to someone. But God is at work all year long. In His great design of life, if He can use a flower to cheer someone, He certainly can work through you.
Perhaps you are the one weathering a wintry time of life. Do not despair. A time of refreshing and renewal is ahead. I look into the scriptures, The Holy Bible. Here is a word picture from which you might benefit.
“But for you who fear My Name, the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go forth leaping like calves from the stall.” (Malachi 4:2)
Can you picture the freedom experienced by a calf who has been shut up all winter when he moves from the stall into a wide verdant pasture? He is jumping and kicking up his legs for the joy of his new found liberty. Freedom such as the calves enjoy can be ours. Trust in the Lord’s promises. They are true.
Looking again to spring, as the days grow longer and the sun’s rays become warmer, perennial garden plants appear. One such plant is rhubarb. My plants have been around since before I moved to southeastern Minnesota. You might call them our inheritance from those who farmed here before us.
One recipe I found in the Ball Blue Book Guide to Home Canning, Freezing and Dehydration is a favorite. It is great as a meat sauce with beef or pork.
2 quarts chopped rhubarb (about 12 stalks)
½ cup vinegar
1 ½ cups chopped raisins
1 teaspoon allspice
½ cup chopped onion (about ½ medium)*
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 ½ cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon salt
Combine rhubarb, raisins, onion, sugar and vinegar in a large sauce pot. Cook until thick, about 25 minutes. As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking. Add spices; cook 5 minutes longer. Ladle hot sauce into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 15 minutes in a boiling water canner.
Yield: about 4 pints.
*I opt out of the onion altogether.