The song of the Easter whippoorwill plaintively singing a nocturnal song a few nights ago was a sweet sound, and I love it. That song always give me hope that springtime has arrived. There is so much in our natural world for which we can give thanks. My brother and I took a drive north of our home on the Woodpecker Route on Sunday. We drove up to “Plum Nearly,” as my paternal grandma and her sisters would often say “Plum to Georgia and nearly out of the world.” I always loved the humor of that statement. The roadsides in various places were banked with wild azaleas and yellow Carolina jasmine. One could even pick out where old home sites were once located by the curling purple wisteria that was winding in some of the bushes and trees; silent and lovely memorials to someone who appreciated the beauty of springtime just as many of us appreciate it today.

On that same Sunday drive, we saw a number of wild turkeys, and they were so pretty. The wild turkey almost became our national bird, it’s true.

During this time of year, if you want to elevate your mood, lift your spirits, gas up your car and take a drive, and you don’t have to drive far. Enjoy the sights, sounds, and the fragrances our Creator has provided for us here in “our” north central Florida.

Now something else that brings comfort at any time is food. I am going to share a couple of recipes that are easy, simple and might, just might, elevate your mood a tad.

These recipes always remind me of the spring and, as stated, they’re easy. That’s for me. The also bring back memories of faces, voices, and happy times.

Pear Salad

I can of Bartlett pear halves in heavy syrup (more if you are making a big platter)

Mild cheddar cheese finely shredded

Mayonnaise (I use Duke’s or Hellman’s).

Iceberg lettuce or romaine lettuce

Maraschino cherries (optional)

Directions to prepare

Wash lettuce well and pat dry, arrange lettuce leaves on a platter

Drain canned pears

Arrange pears on top of lettuce leaves

With a teaspoon dollop a small amount of mayonnaise in the (groove) of the Bartlett pear half.

Sprinkle each pear with shredded cheddar cheese on each pear half.

You may place a maraschino cherry on the pear if you like.

Chill and serve.

The above has become “all the rage” since Sean Dietrich began writing his “Sean of the South” columns. I have news for Sean, and I do enjoy his writing very much. Pear salad can be found of a lot of church “homecoming” tables in the Deep South. He didn’t have a corner on eating it in the Florida panhandle or in L.A., that’s lower Alabama.

When I think of drives down to the river behind the farm during the days of my childhood when we created our “own” special outing by taking a picnic lunch and watching the river flow by or, once in a while, fishing with a cane pole in one of the sloughs or creeks that flowed into the Suwannee, I can recall a cooler in the bed of the pick-up truck, usually a plastic gallon jug frozen with ice to keep things cool, and, so many times, my Mama’s homemade egg salad sandwiches wrapped in wax paper.

Some people jazz up their egg salad, but I like mine pretty basic, all depending on how many folks you are going to feed, boil your eggs accordingly, Mama used boiled about six for a couple of us. The eggs were hard boiled, cut up, yolks, white and all, salt and pepper to taste, about three tablespoons, maybe a little less of Hellman’s or Duke’s mayonnaise and this was spread on what is now considered unhealthy white or, as we call in the Deep South “Light bread”, so fresh it would “ball up in your mouth.” Some people like a little sweet pickle relish in their egg salad, and I can eat it that way, but I like mine just plain.

An egg salad sandwich, a good red delicious apple and maybe a package of nabs, that’s cheese and peanut butter crackers, a thermos of sweet tea or a “Co-Cola,” and we had an outing on a spring day. Oh, peanut butter and jelly was good too if egg salad was not available.

Sometimes, most of the time, I thank God for the ability of appreciating some of life’s simple blessings which are not simple at all. A front porch visit with a friend, an entertaining story, memories in the making.

Time is a precious commodity. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. What lingers are the memories, and, for those, I am thankful. As you go through life and you’re concerning yourself with an overload of stress, remember this: cherish those times you enjoy a cup of coffee and slice of cake and good conversation with a dear friend or loved one, wrap your arms around and hold tight to precious memories.

“Precious memories,

How they linger,

How they ever flood my soul.

In the stillness,

Of the midnight,

Precious sacred, scenes unfold.”

Some precious memories I shall forever hold dear are times spent with dear friends who left us this past week. I won’t say goodbye, simply farewell, and I’ll see you “at home” one day, Bernard “Pie” Williams, White Springs native and lifetime friend; Brownie “Brown” Akers, White Springs ranger at Stephen Foster and wonderful musician; Corliss Law Land, Jasper and White Springs native, a heart of gold, a ready and sweet smile and a hug with loving arms that let you know you were loved; Shelley Harshbarger, Tallahassee, absolutely one of the BEST storytellers I ever heard, and was she wonderful with telling stories to children. She was my neighbor many years at the Florida Folk Festival, and I loved her. We will miss Shelley. Our condolences to the families. You are in our thoughts and prayers. May God comfort you with His mercy, love, and grace.

From the Eight Mile Still on the Woodpecker Route north of White Springs wishing you a day filled with joy, peace, and, above all, lots of love and laughter. Get out and enjoy the beauty of this time of year.

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