No, not the food--although we did have soup and sandwiches and super-blue-ribbon-awarded Scandinavian cookies at today's parish retreat in SANDWICH, IL. Turns out to be a little place surrounded by farms. Never did see the actual town. But the people who came for the Saturday morning retreat were lovely. And the cookies deserved the extra-special grand blue ribbon prize at the Sandwich Fair, too. The secret? Almost as much butter as flour; vanilla sugar; ammonia baking powder. (I think that's what she said: ammonia baking powder; you can only get it through Scandanavian specialty shops.) I might die all the sooner for having ingested something like that (but don't the Scandanavians outlive us anyway?), but boy was that a cookie to remember. And we brought some leftover sandwiches home from Sandwich.
Sr. Irene and I made the drive after the 7:30 Mass downtown. Since we don't have a GPS, we still have to rely somewhat on the dying art of map reading (with a little help from Mapquest and Google). We knew we were really not in Chicago anymore when we made one turn (at the intersection of four fallow cornfields) and saw the sign, "Little Rock Rd. Stage Coach Trail." We don't have too many stage coach trails left in the Big City. Little Rock was near Big Rock, but we didn't see even ONE rock. Just fields and farmhouses. (Interestingly, many of the barns and outbuildings of the farms were painted not that traditional brick red, but white, and in one case, cream color!) Painted on one was the American flag and the words: America Bless God. That's a good one.
The willow trees made their declaration that it is officially spring: they are all that off-shade of yellow. Soon there will be leaves! Am I sounding desperate or what? But the fields haven't been planted yet, or even plowed. They are mostly filled with eight-inch high corn stubble. Good thing, because they are predicting six inches of snow out there tonight.
But the willow trees (and the robins!) promise me that spring is really, really coming. Maybe after Easter?