By Mary Blas
Twas the third week of “lockdown” when all through the house,
Surprises abounded—thank God, not a mouse!
Julia sat wondering where the day went
Mentally calculating if time’d been well spent.
The U.S.A. jigsaw she’d found in a cupboard
Lay halfway completed—‘cept for those states more inward.
The cleared linen closet revealed massive treasure—
Soap gifts of yore for her new bathing pleasure.
Ice packs and toothpaste, and shampoo—all new!
Paper towels, toilet paper—she found quite a few.
More soap and wet wipes, alcohol, braces,
A grabber for reaching stuff stowed in high places.
Her earlier trips to the new Trader Joe’s
Paid off in spades—with boxes in rows of
Basmati, linguini, ramen and coffee,
Flour and sugar, and sweet caramel toffee.
Sauces in cans, bottles and boxes
Mixes and mixers (even two missing soxes).
Julia breathed deeply—and sighed long and soft.
All those years of her shopping had finally paid off!
Spring had come to the South Bronx in 1950! The school day over, we shed our outerwear as soon as we hit the pavement outside St. Peter & Paul elementary school. Liberated from our rigid desks and the grind of the multiplication table and the Baltimore Catechism, we flung schoolbags and jackets at our waiting moms and dashed up the block ahead of them. The first warm rays of sun promised an extended afternoon of fun and our mothers wisely let us run. Wheeling well-worn baby carriages, they turned to each other to gossip and enjoy this respite from housework and shopping. Soon enough they’d be home preparing supper—for now they strolled at leisure—one eye on their racing children, the other on their companions.
Spring brought a season of ritual—both secular and religious. St. Patrick’s Day, Holy Week, Palm Sunday, and Easter were spring events. But May was a special month–the month devoted to Mary. The Sunday after the second graders made their First Communion was followed by the May procession in honor of the Blessed Mother. Each child in the school brought a white flower to the 9:00 AM Children’s Mass to adorn the statue of the Blessed Mother. One special child would place a crown of flowers on Mary’s head. Mass concluded with a procession of all the schoolchildren—led by the second grade girls in their white First Communion dresses—a vision of tiny brides in white veils! The scent of gladiola, carnations, and roses filled the air as we filed out of church singing “Bring flowers of the rarest, bring flowers of the fairest, from garland and woodland, and hillside and dale…….”
It’s 2021 and spring is here again! Like my younger self, yearning to run from a repressive schoolroom—I long to leave the pandemic prison of the past year. The warm days are coming. My mahjongg-turned-walking group is anxious to resume the weekly mahjongg game. My writing group longs to write at the same table, up close and personal! My family hope to spend time together in the country. We’ll celebrate Passover and Easter plus three spring birthdays! But, unlike my seven-year old self, I will not race ahead this spring. I’ll be listening to the doctors for the go-ahead. And then, I hope to race into life—fully and finally!