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  • Writer's pictureDonna Brown

A look at springtime, books and aging

Donna Brown - Between Us

We opened our pool on April 12 at the persuasions of our grandchildren. Though the air temperature was 82 degrees, the water was chilly, or should I say frosty. Yet they dove right in and played like it was August. There have been many early signs of spring this year including honeybees landing lightly on mounds of violets and blooming wisteria dangling from forest trees. At daybreak the morning doves can be heard cooing and at twilight the bats are seen gliding through the sky as the peepers croak to their mates. There is even a Carolina wren’s nest filled with six tiny eggs in a coffee can in our shed.

Spring also has a special feeling to me, and it is when my bare feet for the first time touch concrete warmed by the sun and then relish the coolness when they touch thick shaded grass. Spring also has a unique aroma that blends freshly mown lawns with sweet lilacs and dinner sizzling on the grill. Though this tiny fragment of summer won’t last, it has ushered in hope that’s spring is here.

My husband, Al, recalls another very hot April when he was a teenager. He and his brother, Jeff, were on Easter break when a nearby frantic farmer called on them to help pick his large asparagus fields. The crop had come up a month early and his workers hadn’t arrived yet. Al looked up the temperature for that week in 1975 and it was in the nineties. He also recalls that it was the hardest work he has ever done.

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Author Wilkie Collins has bewitched me, and I cannot get enough of his 19th century novels. Collins is accepted as a pioneer in the genre of detective and mystery novels. He was trained in law and collaborated often with his best friend, Charles Dickens. Over the past few months, I have listened to many of his novels as I quilt. They include: The Woman in White, Armadale, The Evil Genius, Jezebel’s Daughter and The Moonstone. They all are filled with intrigue, false identities, infidelity, hidden secrets and happy endings.

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Aging gracefully. We have all heard that sentiment over the years, but today no one seems to understand the meaning. Does it mean no Botox, but exercising more? Letting your hair go gray and wearing less makeup? Sipping tea and holding your tongue? I checked Amazon and there is a slew of books on the subject and Google has hundreds of funny and inspirational quotes about aging gracefully. Yet, some of us have never done anything gracefully, so why start now?

Early in February I took a tumble down the one step leading to my kitchen. I landed headfirst on the tiles and had a severe concussion and raccoon eyes for three weeks, which by the way you cannot hide with forty dollars’ worth of makeup, so don’t waste your money. Please, if you ever hit your head, go to the emergency room immediately. You may be embarrassed and glad you still have your teeth and no broken bones, but head injuries are nothing to dismiss.

The aftereffects can last for several months.

Of course, it’s hard to tell if forgetfulness is the result of a concussion or just old age. I feel like I am constantly looking for my glasses when I have them on and forgetting what I was going to say. The other day I almost put the milk in the pantry, and I still can’t understand how my car keys ended up in the refrigerator.

Donna Brown is a former Hammonton Middle School librarian and a columnist for The Gazette. To reach Donna Brown, send an email to


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