The Joy Of Spring

It is a lovely chilly Tuesday in April. The air smells fresh and clean and inviting. I am watching a group of gentlemen mowing across from my property and they have a bit of a spring in their step. As the summer progresses that buoyancy will be replaced by sweat. Spring assures us that we do not have to be either hot or cold…but sometimes we can be lukewarm…

Little Egypt has green onions growing in many yards. The fragrant smell of the new onions being cut is memorable. May is the time for picnics at Karel or Mahoney Parks in Eldorado. We often went before it became too hot and humid and later May is known for both. My aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents would all be present for the family picnic. There would be potato salad and baked beans and hot dogs and hamburgers and sweet tea to drink by the glass full. We Southern Illinoisans are almost southerners…but not quite…but we do enjoy our sweet tea. If you go much further north in Illinois…they do not know what you are speaking of and will tell you that they have sugar that you may use to sweeten your tea to your taste… Karel Park had some teeter totters and monkey bars and a merry-go-round that you could make go faster and faster if your pushing leg…held out. Also, tall slides became very hot as spring and summer wore on. Flies were our constant companions during our family reunion picnics. After swishing them away for hours…we tended to become somewhat lackadaisical in the constant employment of fly diversion. There was Granpa Askew, who I had never met as he and my Grandmother went their separate ways many years earlier. He invited me to sit upon his knee…like Santa Claus…and then offered me a dollar bill. I told him no thank you…but later my aunt Wanda informed me that I should have taken it…as he would just spend it on booze…which is the reason that he and Grandma Askew had lived apart for a long time. Grandma Askew came from holiness people and she eschewed liquor of any kind and movie shows and television and Carnivals…which she called…Carnevils. The weakness of the flesh…which is how most vices were preached about and spoken of in the Holiness Movement was either a lack of conviction of purpose in the Christian Walk…or Satan…

Mom and I represented the unchurched folk…in my early years. Neva J. enjoyed a periodic visit to a Honky Tonk and dancing and the occasional Slo-Gin Fizz. She had a heart of gold…and would help anyone in need. We had come from the big evil city and had some city ways. We along with aunt Guelda primarily kept our own brand of faith…and did not attend Granmas’ church…primarily because the minister spoke past 11:00 P:M: on a work night…and many in the congregation slept or at least cat-napped.

Spring Picnics in Eldorado were fun and eclectic and diverse with members of our family who were Gay and afraid to come out of the closet and others who enjoyed the occasional drink and yet others who pledged allegiance to the Faith…but we’re far from convinced. There were more secrets than any of us could count…but there was also a lot of love and genuine enjoyment of each other’s company.

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