Every year, my mother celebrated the first day of spring by reciting her repertoire of spring poems. “O, To Be In England”, Wordsworth’ s daffodils poem, and “Loveliest of trees, the cherry now…” . This was the only annual ritual she enjoyed even more when I no longer lived at home– she thought it was extremely funny to call at the crack of dawn and burst into verse as soon as I sleepily (not to say grumpily) answered the phone.  Bonus points if she woke a roommate or husband, too.

She knew a lot of poetry by heart, which she ascribed to having been raised In a time when rote memorization of poems was expected of schoolchildren. Her even vaster repertoire of funny songs, many from musicals with an emphasis on Cole Porter, couldn’t be blamed on her elementary school teachers, though.

I never learned as many poems by heart, just “Jenny kissed me” and “If thou of fortune be bereft”. And the cherry tree poem. I really should have woken Hannah with that one and its fancy rhyming math yesterday. Maybe next year….