Monday, March 21, 2016

Spring Renewel - Guest Column in the Sunday, March 20, 2016 Intelligencer

Brrr! Chilly out there this morning. 32 degrees. By 3 pm it's up to 49 degrees.

Thanks to Freda Samuels for scanning my Guest Column from the Sunday, March 20 Intelligencer and for Michael Macrone for making it visible to our readers.

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Did your heart sing when Sunday, March 20, rolled around? The first day of spring is as welcome as the return of color across the land. Look out your window. The yellow forsythia stretches toward the sky. Golden daffodils strut in front yards. If you, your children or grandchildren go up close, you’ll hear the song of the bees as they bring sweet nectar home to their hive.
What better way than to teach youngsters the joy of nature? What child doesn’t love blowing on a dandelion puff and watching it sail across the lawn? Or pointing out red cardinals who tweet mating calls on the back yard maple?
Spring is the time to get re-acquainted with the wonderful parks in our area. Peace Valley Nature Center in Doylestown boasts Lake Galena. This man-made lake was created when Bucks County flooded the lake in 1972. Before then, the galena mine (lead ore) had been exhausted. Residents of the village of Leven, who earned their living at the mine, moved out and watched as their homes disappeared beneath the flood waters. 
The new Pennypack Trail spans 14 miles in Philadelphia, Bucks and Montgomery counties. With great effort, old railroad tracks were converted to trails – “Rails to Trails” – where people of every age can walk, jog or bicycle their way through this striking landscape.
Spring is the time for renewal. We shuck off ole man winter’s frosty ways. Memories remain on smart phones of the Blizzard of 2016 with three feet of snow, six-foot high snow men, and the ensuing cabin fever that kept us inside eating canned tuna or mushroom-barley soup.
Every culture has its spring rituals. Eggs, bunnies, and new clothes were symbols of the ancient pagans, before the dawn of Christianity, according to Peg Aloi, an expert in paganism, who writes online. Eggs, she continues, are a symbol of fertility, easy to see as new nests appear in trees and gardeners begin tilling the soil.
These ancients also celebrated by eating fresh greens like sprouts and other vegetables. This is similar to the Jewish festival of Passover. We remember when God liberated the Jewish slaves from Egypt. The festival includes a “seder” where we eat a hard-boiled egg, dipped in salt water representing the tears of our people during their 40 years of slavery. We eat “charoset,” chopped apples, wine and nuts.
Because we fled Egypt in a hurry, we hadn’t time to bake our bread. We remember this by eating “matzoh” or unleavened bread at the dinner seder. At the end of our meal, the head of the household hides the matzoh, or “aficomen” as it’s called, for the excited children to find.
The calendar date of Passover is determined by the Hebrew calendar. The seven-day holiday begins at midnight on the 15th of Nissan in the year 2448. The year is calculated from the time of creation, estimated to be 1313, BC. This is when Moses finally broke the will of Pharaoh to “let my people go.”
Easter Sunday occurs on the March equinox, when day and night are of equal length. On this joyous day, Jesus Christ is resurrected from the dead. While Passover is celebrated at home, Easter Sunday takes place in thousands of churches all over the world.
For the 38th year, a “Sunrise Celebration” will occur in our nation’s capital on March 27 at 6:30 a.m. Thousands of people will gather on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial 20 minutes before the sun rises. Holiday music sounds a “joyful noise,” including a children’s choir. Pastor Amos Dodge delivers a rousing sermon.
If you can’t attend, not to worry. Experience it on YouTube.
Closer to home, Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust, 2955 Edge Hill Road, Huntingdon Valley, sponsors its annual creek clean-up on Saturday, April 9, from 10 until noon. Hundreds of area residents of all ages don work gloves and boots to remove the likes of bottles, plastic trash bags and tires from the Pennypack Creek. Our efforts will be rewarded by lunch in the picnic grove.
Talk about traditions! New Directions, the support group I founded in 1986, for people with depression, bipolar disorder and their loved ones, will lend a hand.  
As a time of renewal, there’s nothing like visiting friends and relatives in assisted living facilities. Stop by with a bag of goodies, practice patience and give the gift of your love and attention. You will feel great and so will Granny!

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