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By Staff | Mar 27, 2009

It was just impossible to stay in bed late last Saturday, the first day of spring was here and who wanted to miss enjoying it.

Certainly not me. Yeah, I know, your calendar said that spring began on March 20, but the first full day of spring was the 21st, all 24 hours, 1,440 minutes and 86,400 seconds of it were all spring.

To prove its point it most assuredly felt like it. The sunrise was absolutely beautiful, with shades of periwinkle and rose, changing as the day came alive.

The air was fresh and clean when later I went outdoors. It stayed that way the whole day, the fresh smell even came into the house with the laundry.

A perfect day, sunshine, little wind, the mud dried up sufficiently that outdoor work was a pleasure. The children were all home. It was just a great day to have a birthday. That is exactly what I did on Saturday, I turned 50.

Thanks, mom, for your labor of love that many years ago.

The girls and I spent the afternoon pruning apple trees, they doing the hard work of deciding which branches to trim and which to leave. I got the relaxing job of picking them up and carrying to the burning pile. By night I was feeling every single one of those 50 years, barely able to move after supper.

Earlier in the week, a farm couple I was interviewing asked me if it bothered me to turn 50. Permit my mind to wander a bit from the subject, but I must interject that one of the most enjoyable things about this newspaper job, is that I get to visit with other farm families.

We sit around the table, usually enjoying a cup of coffee and just talk. It’s almost as we have been friends who have never met each other before.

My reply to their question was, “No, it didn’t.” In the past I thought it would, but it is inevitable as time marches on. Years before after the birth of my first child, a neighbor stopped by our farmhouse to congratulate us. Her children were high school and beyond age. I asked her a stupid sounding question (it’s something I’m good at), but her answer was one I never forgot.

As you know my son was so darling, very precious to me. I made the comment, they are so adorable at this age, how is it to watch them grow up. She said you will love them at every age they are. Each age is very special.

She is right, I don’t love my children any less than I did the day they were born. Each phase of their lives has its pluses and minuses.

So it is how I view life. This is the age I am, I can’t go back, there is no assurance that I will celebrate another birthday on this earth. Today is the present, a gift from God.

The first AARP letter arrives, a bit disconcerting as it falls into the wastebasket. Some say the peak has been reached, but I just had to smile as my second son, informed me, laughing, “That some go down hill faster.”

He is right, we don’t know from one moment to the next what is on the horizon, how that next phone call may change our lives.

Two years ago my farmer and I visited with a classmate and friend of mine. She was in the last stages of cancer. At her home with family and husband, we visited, catching up on life, talking about nonsensical things. It was no surprise when we got the phone call that she had died a week or two later.

This past January my best friend in high school buried her husband on the coldest day of the year. It was only a few months before they found out he had cancer. A diagnosis they were not expecting to hear.

Just thirty years ago, I stood as maid of honor at their wedding. Never imagining their years of marital bliss would be cut so short.

This winter I have been reading Valley of Vision. It is a book comprised of prayers and devotions of Puritan believers from a long time ago. Not a book you sit down one night to read from cover to cover, instead its one you read alongside the Bible and meditate. For me to describe their powerful prayers would do them injustice. But as they pour out their hearts in prayer to God they focus on man’s purpose in life. It gets you thinkin’.

My birthday wish for you is that you will all enjoy as beautiful weather as I did on my day and that you can spend it with those you love best.

Vander Schaaf is a Farm News staff writer from northwest Iowa. Reach her by e-mail at renaefarmnews@gmail.com.

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