Lent: Sacrifices noteworthy for those who persevere

By: Lynda Hollenbeck

A lot of people in my acquaintance gave up certain things for Lent this year.
One friend focused on sugar. That's admirable and healthy besides. What happens after Easter is anyone's guess.
A relative periodically forgoes soft drinks during this period leading up to Easter. Every year she says she won't resume drinking them, but so far this hasn't held true.
Still, she makes a valiant effort for the 40 days. That's certainly more than I can boast of for even a single day.
I don't drink coffee. I don't drink alcohol. But I do drink caffeine-laden diet drinks.
Maybe they will be my downfall eventually, but so far I'm still kicking and enjoying my current preference, a Diet Pepsi. Diet Dr Pepper often takes the lead and Diet Coke regularly runs third.
Perhaps one of these years I'll make it my goal to give up these get-me-through-the-day beverages that are largely habit for me, but I didn't make the attempt this year.
In hindsight I would say that if there's anything I gave up for Lent, it must have been housework.
This has never been my forte anyway, but recently I've been home so little that for the most part the only time it's been swept was with a glance.
I tend to subscribe regularly to Eleanor Roosevelt's view of housework when she once said, "Personally, my dear, I don't believe one should ever devote more than 15 minutes a day to it."
And then there was Erma Bombeck who claimed housework would "kill you if you do it right."
Erma could get to the heart of the matter like nobody else.
I've known some serious coffee drinkers who tried to give up the habit for Lent. If they made it halfway through, no one could stand to be around them.
I enjoy my diet colas, but those seriously addicted to coffee take it to another level. They're just plain not nice when it's no longer part of their routine.
On another vein, there's the Arkansas weather at this season of the year. Coming off the most severe weather I can recall in my lifetime, it's wonderful to see the renewal of spring. Trees are turning green again and buds are popping out as a forerunner to full-fledged blossoms.
This can be expected every year as we move toward Easter. There will be warm days interspersed with cool ones, but normally Easter weekend will be crisp if tradition holds.
As a kid, I was told that this was the "Easter cold snap."
The other term for the period was "blackberry winter," meaning it was a time when the days would turn cool, ostensibly to set the buds on the blackberry vines.
As far as my history goes, when the blackberries are in full bloom, we certainly will have cool weather for a few days.
This isn't to say I've ever picked blackberries, but I know they're around.
Such information, not surprisingly, came from my mother, who was full of wise sayings and generalized stuff about a lot of things that didn't seem to matter much at the time, but now I consider priceless.
I've always wanted to know how the blackberries can know when it's time to bloom every year — whether March or April — since the date for Easter is not a set time. But that's one of the miracles of nature.
For years this particular season at our house was marked by changes in two different spots in the front yard: a circle of purple irises that surround the birdbath and an adjacent patch of coral-colored lilies.
Both sets of flowers were special because of their link to two special women in my life, my mother and my husband's mother.
The irises, plus the bird bath, were transplanted from the Pine Bluff lawn of the late Winnie Hollenbeck. For years they would bloom a few days before the lilies, which initially came as an expression of friendship from Doyle and Barbara Webb when Mamma died.
Each year the lilies got fuller and prettier, but they would always follow Winnie's irises. (I didn't set the schedule for this. I just could see what was happening.) It would have thrilled me for the two to have bloomed simultaneously, but it never happened.
The irises are about to bloom, I'm happy to report, but there are no more lilies. A relative mowing my front yard a couple of years ago accidentally mowed over them and they didn't resurrect. I never told him what he had done since it was strictly an accident, but I do miss Mamma's lilies.
It took several years before Winnie's irises bloomed at all. We wondered about it for a long time, then more or less forgot about them. Ironically, the blossoms came after we moved Winnie's old bird bath to our yard, a short time after her death in 1995.
There is no scientific explanation for that, but I have my own theory.
Someday I'll find out the real story from Winnie. But for now, I'll just enjoy the lovely colors.

Lynda Hollenbeck is senior editor of The Saline Courier.