Spring has finally loosed all its charms here in the Arkansas Ouachitas. Even the dogwoods have caught up — blooming just in time for Easter.

Chocolate bunny

A Happy Easter to all!

GALLOOMPHING - This large rabbit didn't so much hop as galloomphed his way around the grounds of a local nursing home. He and a friend have free run of the place to the amusement of patients and their families.
GALLOOMPHING – This large rabbit didn’t so much hop as galloomphed his way around the grounds of a local nursing home. He and a friend have free run of the place to the delight of patients and visitors.

Weekly photo challenge: A (fraction of a) day in my life

This is really only a couple of minutes in a day in my life (yesterday, for that matter.) You could hear the peeping from down the hall: A basket of little yellow chicks. Not for Easter, but for the start of a 4-H project teaching kids how to raise chickens. One chick, cradled by a co-worker, fell asleep in her warm palm, or simply found our department boring.* A more detailed post, perhaps, after Easter.

*No, having poultry or other livestock in our office is not typical.

The grand challenge page:

Other days. Other lives:

Gaudete Sunday

Today is Gaudete Sunday, the next-to-last Sunday in Advent. Advent, like Lent, is a time of introspection; a time to prepare the soul and mind. Advent encompasses four Sundays in anticipation of Christmas and Lent does the same before Easter.

During three of the Sundays in Advent and Lent, the priest wears violet vestments — a symbol of penance. Gaudete Sunday is one of two holidays in the Catholic calendar where rose vestments — which symbolize joy — are worn, the other being Laetare Sunday, the third Sunday of Lent. (A nice summary on liturgical colors can be found here:

In the West, pink is a culturally difficult color. It’s OK for women, but often taboo for men. It takes a big man to wear rose, and they don’t come any bigger than B16. Biltrix has a great photo of Il Papa in his rose vestments. (In Thailand, pink has become associated with the king.)

A trend we’ve been seeing in the pews is parishioners embracing the colors of the season. At the Saturday vigil Mass, the pews were filled with men,  women and children who had worked rose or violet into their Sunday (or Saturday) best. It’s a powerful external symbol of the inner states that  Advent and Lent are meant to touch.

A little birdie told me …

Winter gave way to spring and Lent is giving way to Easter.

Here on the mountain, a little birdie told us it’s time for another seasonal change, from Christmas to, well, now.

For each of the last three seasons, ruby throated hummingbirds have jetted, dog-fought (is this the past tense of dog-fight?) and hovered around our deck to enjoy homemade nectar. Wednesday night, one of the hummingbirds reappeared, having returned from his winter home nearer the equator. We spotted him checking each of the red bulbs on the strings of Christmas lights draped around the deck, probably thinking at each stop that the next one would be a refreshing floral Slurpee. It seemed a terrible (and unintentional) trick to play on the poor little guy. It was time to take the lights down and put the feeder up.

There is something even more ambitious on our seasons-change agenda, something in honor of Easter: taking down the Christmas tree. The Leland Cypress we bought the week after Thanksgiving has, amazingly, remained green and supple. We will hate to see it go, but it will serve as additional cover for our wild neighbors down the mountain slope.

So, what does all have to do with the spiders below? They are the new seasonal deck decor in the absence of Christmas lights.

HE'S GOT LEGS -- Daddy long legs clings to the underside of the railing.
GREEN and HAIRY -- The photo doesn't do it justice, but this spider with tiny tufts of hair was the same pale green of all-things-that-glow-in-the-dark with black accents.
SUSPENSION BRIDGE -- Spider hangs on a silken line from deck table to chair.

Root of Jesse

Passover is coming. Growing up outside New York City in a town where most everyone was Catholic (Irish or Italian) or Jewish, the coming of Holy Week also meant the coming of Passover. We all had a week off school to mark the holidays.  We all had just enough Sunday school or Hebrew school to make our parents happy. Not theologians by any stretch of the imagination, but we had a pretty good idea of the basics and what went on in each church or synagogue.

But even if you’re not immersed in the movement of the liturgical seasons, popular culture, particularly commercial retail, throws some pretty good clues. Hard to miss the chocolate bunnies, pastel Peeps, egg coloring kits and brightly colored baskets that signal Easter. In Arkansas,it seems  finding evidence of Passover is a little tougher. Most years, the major tip off  can be found in a tiny corner of the “international foods” section. It’s that empty space in the shelf where the matzos were.

As the church marked the fifth and final Sunday of Lent 2012, couldn’t help but meditate on the image borne in the glass and lead of one of the north windows, a large Star of David. An odd thing in a Catholic church? As Christians come to celebrate salvation, it’s a good reminder of where it all began.

STAR OF DAVID -- This north window at our Lady of the Holy Souls Church is a reminder of the Judaic roots of Christianity.