African Adventure – Part 7

When we got back from Mongu, we had a few changes to deal with. First of all, my husband’s job changed. He went from working in the communications section of the government to being a lecturer at a technical college. Our housing was tied to his job (he being the male) so we also had to change house. We didn’t have to move the furniture since that went with the house but our few belongings, linens, dishes, clothing had to be packed and moved.

Our new house was a “maisonette” or a townhouse, and boasted three bedrooms since our baby was due any day, and best of all – hot running water! We still had no washer so the laundry had to be done in a large tub, outside the front door. It was very difficult as I was now in my last month of pregnancy, but we managed.

We needed to hire a nanny to look after the baby and we began asking friends for names. One couple was leaving to go back to England and they recommended their nanny, Victoria, who accepted the job. The timing was perfect since I was giving birth during the school holiday and had to go back to teaching when the new term started.

It was July, which is winter in Zambia. It was quite cool in the house since some of the higher windows didn’t have glass in them, only screens. It was sunny every day and the high temperature would be around 20C (60F).

Our baby was due on July 14. At 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 23, 1967, labour began. A couple of hours later we went to the hospital, where I was instructed to put on my nightgown and climb into a bed. My husband asked to be allowed in the room with me during labour which absolutely horrified the nurses. “You can’t go in there. She’s having a baby!” I sent him home and told him he might as well go to Mass.

I was told there was only one doctor on duty and that she was in another hospital building. They had no way of knowing where she was or how to get hold of her.

At some point I fell asleep and woke up with the sound of someone moaning. I was in a room all by myself and couldn’t figure out where the sound was coming from. I fell asleep again and the same thing happened. You guessed it – it was me. Labour was getting intense.

I kept thinking about my mother and how proud she would be of me. When the nurse came in to check on me, I was smiling. My mother had eleven children and I felt sure I could produce this baby, with or without a doctor. Around 1:30 p.m. I told the nurse I had to push. She said, “Oh, no. It will be many more hours, maybe sometime tonight.” She started to leave and I asked her to check.

She ran to get another nurse and after three or four pushes, Michelle Helene was born, 8 pounds, and absolutely adorable. She entered the world and started crying just as the doctor walked into the room.

It was the perfect birthing experience. I was alone for probably 90% of the time, thinking of my mother and how happy she was going to be. But I had expected to have a boy!!! My mother had four boys before I was born and I thought I’d be the same. When they told me it was a girl, I can’t tell you how utterly thrilled I was. I looked at her and whispered, “My daughter. My daughter.” I was just as thrilled with our three other daughters by the way!

My husband had gone to Mass and then went to lunch with friends who told him it would be hours before anything happened. He arrived at the hospital to find his daughter lying in the nursery, and looking very much like him.

He came into the room where I had delivered and saw his wife enjoying a cup of tea and eating a little piece of cake.

I walked to my “room” which was just a narrow bed in a long line of beds, out on the verandah of the hospital! The place was enclosed by screens and I can tell you it was c-c-chilly! This is where I spent the next couple of days, getting to know my new little sweetheart.

Meanwhile, how to get a message to our families…

We had asked my parents to not use the telephone for the hour between noon and one p.m. their time, for the entire month of July as we would try to telephone with the news. Both sets of parents were expecting their first grandchild and I can’t imagine how nervous and excited they were. We tried. We really tried. We tried for five days and didn’t get further than a telephone operator in Britain.

After five days, we sent a telegram. We didn’t know it but that didn’t get through either. I had written a letter from the hospital and my parents finally got word that they had a granddaughter about three weeks after she was born.

A wonderful experience that has brought a lifetime of joy!

Thanks for reading. – Maureen


African Adventure – Part 6

Safari (Part 2)

Our safari to the Victoria Falls and Chobe Game Preserve was a rare luxury. We travelled with two friends and stayed in luxurious but very inexpensive hotels. Most of the highways were paved, but just in the middle.  You see, you would drive in the middle of the road, and move over when you met another car. Our trip to Mongu was different.

Mongu is a town in the Western Province of Zambia and during the next school holiday, we decided to travel there.  We had a couple of friends who had been posted there and they had come to Lusaka for a break. They stayed with us and my husband decided that it would be a good idea to drive them back to Mongu as they couldn’t get a lift from anyone else. I was seven months pregnant but it never occurred to us that anything could go wrong. And thank God, nothing did. We would be driving over 300 miles across some of the worst roads in Zambia in our 12 year old car.

There was another pontoon to take us across the Kafue river which had hippos standing around in the shallow water, just waiting for a tasty Canadian to have for lunch. There were African women washing clothes and dishes on the riverbank with their children playing around them. It was a charming scene and not too different from my own clothes-washing on my knees.

The journey was long and the whole area was much more isolated than on our previous trip. We had to break the trip into two days since driving at night was very dangerous. Many accidents were caused by unsuspecting drivers suddenly crashing, at night, into a lorry (truck) that was unlit and parked in the middle of an isolated road.

The first night we stayed at a leper colony. The hospital there was run by  priests and nuns from Ireland, and they were very welcoming. The next day was Sunday so we went to Mass before setting out again. Men were on one side of the tiny chapel and women and children on the other. There were a couple of chairs at the back but there was no place for the people to sit. They either stood or knelt and there were kneeling benches provided. One poor woman, who had a small child, was also pregnant. During the sermon she apparently got tired of standing and sat down on the kneeling bench. The woman in front of her turned around and slapped her sharply across the face. Needless to say, she stood up again!

Many of the people attending Mass were lepers and it was quite the experience. I saw little children in their parents’ arms. Several of them had flies walking around on their faces and they didn’t even raise a hand to brush them off. Very touching for a pregnant woman to see.

We arrived at Mongu the following day and drove up to a rise of  land to look out over the Barotse Flood Plain. Every year an area about 40 miles wide floods after the rainy season. The people who live on the plain have to move to higher ground and they hold a ceremony called the Kuomboka, in which the Litunga or king of the Lozi people enters a large dugout canoe and accompanied by drummers, moves the whole village to higher ground.

The canoe carrying the king of the Lozis to higher ground.

The canoe carrying the king of the Lozis to higher ground.

The word Kuomboka means “to get out of the water”. When we were in Mongu looking out at the Barotse Floodplain, it was shortly after the Kuomboka. We couldn’t see much water because the vegetation under the water had grown up and it looked like any other field.

A couple of days later, we drove back to Lusaka, and had only two gas rationing coupons left to get us home. There were very few gas stations and when we stopped at the last one, they were out of gas! This was not uncommon, and luckily we made it back before running completely dry.

The next bit of excitement in our lives was to be the birth of our first child. No drugs. No doctor. In Africa!

Thanks for reading. – Maureen



African Adventure – Part 5

On Safari (Part 1)

African friends explained to us that going on “safari” was as simple as going on a trip into the bush. It didn’t need to be organized or done with a group. We went on our first safari after visiting the Victoria Falls.

We crossed over into Rhodesia and then drove along a track, looking for the border into Botswana.  After driving for about half an hour, we came upon a wire gate stretched across the road.  We thought that we had somehow found ourselves at a farmer’s gate, and got out to investigate.  We were just about to retrace our route when an African man, dressed in the uniform of a border agent, came running out of the bush.  It was the border into Botswana!

We drove through Botswana for a couple of hours and then arrived at the Chobe Game Reserve.  This was the place where Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton got married for the second time.  The reserve is famous for its wildlife and we had lunch at the lodge which had magnificent views of the Zambesi River and the five countries which came together at that point.

The Caprivi Strip in Namibia, Angola, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia could all be seen from the window and we were scheduled to take a ferry across the river, about twenty miles downstream.

In Canada, we have ferries that look like this.

One of the BC Ferries.

One of the BC Ferries.

But this is what we saw coming toward us across the river.

One of the pontoons on the Zambesi River.

One of the pontoons on the Zambesi River.

The Zambesi River is home to crocodiles and hippos and a number of animals that could end our safari right there.  I was about five months pregnant and was terrified, but I got in the car and we drove onto the Kazungula Pontoon.

The pontoon had two outboard motors, ones on each side, and the two men operating it called instructions to each other across the deck.

We arrived on the Zambian side of the river and drove several miles before we came to a traditional African building which turned out to be the border control site.

A roundavel, a typical Zambia building.

A rondavel, a typical Zambia building.

The agent had been sitting on a chair reading the Bible and came over to process us. It was good to be back in Zambia.

On our trip we saw chimpanzees, lions, zebras, giraffes, impalas, kudus, elands, rhinos, and hippos.  We never saw elephants in Africa, and I think they are  even more rare now than they were in the mid-60s.

Our next safari was a trip from Lusaka to Mongu in the Western Province of Zambia. But it will have to wait for another day.

Thanks for reading and have an adventuresome day. – Maureen

African Adventure – Part 4

Babies and Cars

Imagine being 21 years old, married, and going off to work and live in Africa for two years.  For us it was an adventure.  For our families, it must have seemed like madness.  We could not phone home, or communicate in any way except by what is now known as snail mail.  Any news we wanted to send home would take ten days to two weeks to reach them.

In early December, 1966, I found out that I was pregnant.  Our families were thrilled with the news.  First grandchild for both sets of parents.  And the baby would have 20 aunts and uncles.

Remember, I was still doing the laundry, kneeling on the floor beside the bathtub, and walking to school in the African heat.  I became quite sick so we decided to try to find a car to buy.  My salary as a teacher (John’s salary was the same) was $2,400 per year.  Zambian volunteers were the highest paid in the world.  The volunteers in India got only $500 per year.

Through a friend of a friend, we found a car that we could afford.  It was a 1954 Peugeot, and cost us $240.  But here’s the thing.  The entire roof of the car was rusted from being in the African sun for over ten years.  The doors opened backwards, and the driver was on the right!  It served us well, and took us on many trips around Zambia as well as to Malawi, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), and Botswana.

Because Rhodesia and Zambia were opposite politically (Rhodesia was an apartheid state), Zambia declared a policy of no-trade with Rhodesia, which meant that all goods had to come from somewhere else.  Gas had to be trucked in to the country from Tanzania.  The roads were appalling and there were many serious accidents.  Gas rationing was the solution.

We had little coupons which we had to take with us to buy gas.  Most months we were limited to 10 gallons.  One month we had 12 gallons, and one month, only 4.  Gallons.  For the whole month.

People helped each other out and if you had a spare coupon you gave it to a friend who was planning a trip.  If you knew a doctor, it was a bonus, because they had unlimited coupons.

In March we set out for the beautiful Victoria Falls, in Southern Zambia.  They were wild and natural, and uncommercialized.  We walked along a dirt path and came upon the Falls.  In the African language of that area, they  were known as mosi-oa-tunya, which translates to the smoke that thunders.  It describes the Falls perfectly.

John and I sat on a rock at the very edge of the falls and had our photo taken.  It is one of my favourites and whenever life has had its difficult situations, we look at that photo and tell ourselves that we are the kind of people who sit by Victoria Falls and can face anything.

The slides we took in Africa are being digitally translated, and I will add photos when they become available.  Until then you will have to use your imaginations.

Thank you for reading.  Have a wonderful day. – Maureen


Brush Strokes – Chapter 1

The VIA Rail train pulled out of the Ottawa station, smoothly and silently.  Most of the passengers in the Business Class car settled comfortably into their roomy seats and looked forward to being pampered on their four-hour journey to Toronto.

Kenzie MacRae breathed a little sigh of envy as she looked at her fellow passengers as they picked up magazines, chatted with companions, or leaned back with closed eyes.

This wasn’t a pleasure trip for her.  Her boss had phoned the night before and asked, no ordered her to be a meeting in Toronto the next day.  Harry had obviously had another of his brilliant ideas and she knew it would mean extra work for her.

She snapped open her laptop and checked her schedule.  Damn.  That illustration for Monique Sheridan’s latest was due in three days time, and she hadn’t even started.

“Would you like coffee or tea, Miss?  We’ll be serving a hot breakfast in about ten minutes.”

“Coffee, black,” she said without looking up.

“Hope you enjoy your trip, Miss,” the steward said, handing her the hot drink.

“I doubt it,” Kenzie muttered.

From across the aisle she heard a distinct laugh.  She looked over at the man facing her.  He was grinning boldly and she gave him a glare in return.

She felt her cheeks warm angrily and was about to tell him to mind his own business, but swallowed her remark when he picked up a novel and began to read.  He sat alone in his seat and stretched his long legs out in front of him, apparently engrossed in his book.

For the first time since Harry’s call, Kenzie began to smile.  Here was a man who could help her with one of her problems, and he’d never even know it.

She took an inventory – purely from a business point of view – of his physical assets.  Dark hair, blue eyes, broad shoulders, and definitely in need of a shave.  The close-fitting blue jeans and short-sleeved shirt revealed a muscular body that could drive women wild.  Most women.  Not Kenzie.  She was immune, and she had seen the best of them, and with less on than this guy had.

Good looking men were her business.  Well, painting them actually.  For the covers of those impossibly romantic books so many women loved to read.  And this guy was perfect.  There would be a lot  of female hearts racing when they picked up Monique’s new romance novel, “Pirate of Hearts.”

Kenzie knew just how to portray him, and couldn’t suppress a little chuckle of her own, as she reached over to get her drawing materials from her carry-on bag.

Twenty minutes later, the drawing was taking shape.  With her watercolour pencils, she added a little colour to the picture and then sat back to admire it.  There he stood on the deck of a Spanish galleon, shirt open to the waist, a sword in one hand, and one arm around a shapely woman with flowing golden hair.  He was every woman’s fantasy.  Every woman except Kenzie.  She was immune.

“We make a great looking couple.”  The voice was low and close to her ear.

Kenzie jumped.  Oh, God.  It was him!

“What do you mean we?  That’s not me.”

“No, I guess not,” he said sarcastically.  “Your eyes, your hair, your nose, even your dimple, but it’s not you.”  He looked at her closely and grinned.  “Now, in that business suit, and bent over like that I can’t tell for sure, but I think the body is yours, too.”  He looked at the drawing of the woman in the low-cut gown.  “Yes, they’re definitely your…”

“You’re disturbing me!”

“I’m flattered.  But I think I often have that effect on women.  Or so they tell me.”

“I didn’t mean it like that,” she sneered.  “I’m trying to work.  And it is not me in the drawing.”

The grin was back and the voice was lazy.  “And here I was thinking that you were imagining the two of us together on the high seas fending off pirates.”

“Well, I wasn’t,” she snapped, “so don’t flatter yourself.  I just put you…”

“So it is me.  Well, that’s still quite an honour.  I’ve had woman take my photo before, but this is the first time someone has gone so far as to…”

Kenzie sputtered, “Do you actually think I am doing this because I am attracted to you?  I’m totally oblivious to your…your…to you.”

She looked into his eyes and swallowed hard.  When had he slipped into the seat beside her?  When had he stopped reading the paperback?  When was she going to get control of the situation?

“Look,” she said, in what she considered was an even and patient voice, “I see men like you all the time.  With me it’s purely business.”

He raised his eyebrows at that.  “And just what is your business?”

She gritted her teeth.  “My business is none of your business, but just to set the record straight…I’m an illustrator for Heavenly Romances Publishing.  I do covers for the Romance of the Month.”

“Hey, wait a minute.  Are you telling me that you want to put my face…”

“And body…”  It was her turn to grin wickedly.

His eyes narrowed.  “…and body…on the cover of a…”

“Romance novel…Yes, that’s about it.  You’re just the type – women will sigh over you when they see you on the bookstands as they wait in the supermarket check-out line.”

He leaned closer.  “And what about you?  Do I make you sigh?”

Her colour rose again.  “Of course not.  I’m a professional.  Your looks have no effect on me whatsoever.  I’m immune.”

He picked up the drawing and looked at it closely.  He shook his head. “You’re not immune.  Not immune at all.”

Should I continue???  Thanks for reading and have a good day. – Maureen

An African Adventure – Part 3

How to Take a Bath

Our first house in Zambia was modest by North American standards.  There were five rooms, living room, two bedrooms, a tiny kitchen containing a stove, fridge, and a table with two shelves above it.  No cupboards, no counter space.  There was also a very small bathroom, with sink, toilet, and bathtub.  But there was no hot water in the house.

So to have a bath, Husband had to go outside and fire up the old wood stove which had a small water tank above it, which would then heat up the water which would trickle into the tub to a depth of  about three inches.  This was also the way the laundry was done.  I had to get on my knees and wash and rinse the laundry, and then take it to hang on the clothesline.

When the laundry was dry, sometimes in about half an hour, it all had to be ironed, on both sides.  You see there was this little pest called a putzi fly, invisible to the human eye, which would get into wet clothing and then lay its eggs under your skin.  You can imagine the rest.  A visit to the doctor would be required, to have the eggs removed.  Sheets, pillow cases, towels, bras, underwear, dresses, shirts, skirts, blouses.  All had to be ironed on both sides to kill the putzi fly.  Bras and underwear seemed to cause the most problems.

When our baby, Michelle, was born a year later, all of her diapers had to be done in the tub, hung out to dry, and ironed on both sides!!!  But more about the baby later!

Now to the creatures who lived in our house and obviously were a little put-out at our moving in!

The house was furnished with a few pieces – dresser, beds (single), table, chairs, small love seat and a couple of lamps.  It was exciting until, on moving day, I opened the dresser to clean it, and a zillion bugs scurried out.  I almost fainted.  I was deathly afraid of all bugs, worms, snakes, lizards, and of course, all of the wild animals.  I don’t know what I thought Africa was going to be like but I obviously didn’t think it through.  I mean – Africa?  C’mon!

That day I slew more spiders, cockroaches, and other sundry bugs than anyone should have to in their lifetime.  The spiders alone were as big as saucers and I didn’t want to be anywhere near them!  Later that evening,  we were getting ready to go to bed (or beds) and there on the wall were three HUGE spiders.  We just lay there and I know for a fact that neither of us slept one second that whole night.

Just as a side note.  The single beds were pushed together by John.  His words?  Never let it be said that I procrastinated on a household job when it was really important!

Thanks for reading and I hope I haven’t scared you from visiting the beautiful country of Zambia. Have a great day! – Maureen

An African Adventure – Part 2

Rapid Calculations in Pounds, Shillings, and Pence

When we arrived in the capital, Lusaka, it was early September, and the sun shone in a clear sky day after day.  We stayed in a students’ residence  for a few days while we were assigned our living quarters and where we were told what posts we had been given.

In Canada, I had taught a class of five and six-year olds in Grade 1.  An elementary school post would have been great but there was a little problem.  There were very few university graduates in Zambia at that time, and anyone who had completed Grade 6 was qualified to teach elementary school!  I was given a job teaching Math and English to High School students.

The day after we arrived we were driven to State House, the home of the President of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda.  In the gorgeous formal garden, we met the President,  who was very welcoming and charming.

A couple of days later I went to a meeting at my new school and met the staff.  Most of the teachers were from Great Britain, but there were several from India and two African women, from South Africa.  One of the Africans, Lauretta Ngcobo, became a close and dear friend.

My first lesson was “Rapid Calculations in Pounds, Shillings, and Pence”.  Of course I didn’t know how many pence were in a shilling, or how many shillings were in a pound.  The lesson must have been torture for the students as I had to keep asking them.  They were very kind and patient, though.

Every day, for the two years I taught there, we had barefoot children coming to the school, clutching pieces of paper with their marks on them, asking if they could come to our school.  We all had to say that there was no room.  It was heartbreaking as they knew the only way they were going to do well was to get an education.  There was only one high school in Lusaka.  And it was more than full.

Most of the students lived with their families in round  one-room  houses, with holes for windows, thatched roofs, and dirt floors.  There were no bathrooms or kitchens.  Cooking was done outside and I can’t imagine what it must have been like sleeping on the floor with possibly a blanket, very little nourishing food in their stomachs.  The diet at that time consisted of Nshima, a porridge-like mixture, with some fruit or vegetables, and once or twice a month, some meat.  The whole family ate with their fingers from a communal dish.

Our home was humble, by North American standards.  Look for Part 3 to find out about the adventure involved in taking a bath!

Thanks for reading and have a good week – Maureen.

An African Adventure – Part 1

Flying Backwards Across the Atlantic

In 1966, Africa was still called the Dark Continent.

In 1966, when John and I got married, we were just 21 years old.  Three days after the wedding we were on our way to Africa, blissfully in love and blissfully unaware of how difficult it must have been for our parents to see us go.  No cell phones, no Skype, no Internet, no email, no downloading or uploading of photos, no digital cameras, and no electronic means of communicating.

We were both brought up with a sense of adventure and decided, after knowing each other for only three months, to get married and move to Zambia, in Central Africa.  We joined a volunteer organization called CUSO, which placed Canadian university graduates in posts in many of the world’s poorer countries.

Here we are, married three days, and leaving for Montreal, en route to Zambia.

Here we are, married three days, and leaving for Montreal, en route to Zambia.

After an orientation course in Montreal, we boarded our flight to Africa.  CUSO had arranged for about 120 volunteers to be ferried across the ocean aboard a Canadian Air Force troop-carrier turbo-prop airplane, with a crew of pilots and navigators in training.

The feeling of hurtling down the runway facing backwards was amazing.  Apparently it was considered safer so all the seats faced the back of the plane.  It took us eight hours to cross the Atlantic and we landed at the Canadian Air Force base at Marveille, France.

We were billeted in the air force barracks on the base and were scheduled to depart for Africa the next day.  However, there was some trouble getting permission from the government of Libya for a military plane to cross their air space and it took three days before we were able to leave.

We flew into Tunisia just as dusk was descending on the ancient city of Carthage.  We dropped off about 20 French-speaking volunteers who had been assigned to that country.

We flew off again and I remember looking down at the Sahara Desert as the moon shone on the waves of sand dunes, very much like the moon shone down on the waves of the Atlantic Ocean a few days earlier.

The next morning we landed in Entebbe, Uganda, to drop off more volunteers.  Just a young woman from a small town in Nova Scotia and here I was in Africa.

We flew on to Nairobi, Kenya, dropped off more volunteers and then were taken to a hotel for the night.  The next morning at six, we were awakened by someone knocking on the door and calling out something that sounded like, “Key, key”.  We couldn’t figure out who would want our room key but John answered the door and came back with a tray of Tea.  What a lovely custom!

The problem with landing the plane in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, was that the airport runway was quite short and in the heat at the middle of the day, it would take a long distance for the plane to stop.  We left the rest of the volunteers, destined for posts in Tanzania, to wait for the plane to return to Nairobi to pick them up  after our possibly dicey landing.  The fewer people in the plane the better, so we took off with about twenty passengers.

We landed without incident and were finally, after five days en route, in Africa.

Part 2 to follow soon.  Have a great day and thanks for reading.

Spring Has Sprung

The winter of 2012-2013 was frightful.  It didn’t really get going until December, but it built up a head of steam in March and April that would make you shiver.  And not just from the snow, ice, and winds.

Here in Canada, our meteorologists report  a phenomenon called “The Wind-Chill Factor” which tells us that even though it is -30 degrees outside and we think we are safe to leave the house clad in our long johns, two pairs of pants, three sweaters, a down-filled jacket, hat, scarf, mitts and boots, we’d better go back in and put on our super-cold-weather gear because with the wind factored in it actually feels like -80 degrees and several people have frozen to their front doorknobs and are waiting their turn to be rescued by the Paramedics who are also frozen but to the doors of their ambulances!

Okay, a slight exaggeration, but you get the point!  I always told my daughters (who in turn have told their husbands and kids) that by the end of March every Canadian resident (except the poor souls who live in the Northwest Territories) can expect 90% of the snow to be gone.  Not this year!   I was getting irate calls from my grandchildren and demands to know what was happening.

At the end of April, there was a whisper of green on the tips of the trees along the Greenboro Trail.  The grass on our front lawn has turned emerald-green in a matter of days.  Our garden plants are poking their heads out to see if it is safe to emerge.

Heavenly blossoms.

Heavenly blossoms.

By May 1, the snow was gone, and crocuses, daffodils, and tulips were dancing in the bright sunshine.  The whole neighbourhood is alive.  Men and women are smiling at each other and kids are playing at the park.  There have been several baseball games being played and one young man actually asked me if the local pool was open!

My grandson, Owen, playing street hockey.

My grandson, Owen, playing street hockey.

The scent of blossoms is fragrant in the air and the lilacs are just showing a tinge of purple and white.  The temperature is hovering around 26 degrees celsius (around 80 F).  John and I have been on our bikes and I am happy to say Tim Horton’s restaurant is showing a profit again since I’ve made it a regular stop on my adventures.

Forsythia on Echo Drive.

Forsythia on Echo Drive.

I have tried to describe the Miracle of Spring, but I can’t do justice to the feeling of joy in my heart at the beauty and wonder of God’s creation.



Thanks for reading and have a  beautiful, wondrous spring day. – Maureen