Joyce Bupp, farm wife

Beautiful hanging baskets decorate our front porch: graceful draping floral displays in blues, pinks, yellows, purples and reds.

The gorgeous plants enhanced the porch the instant that granddaughter Sarah carefully placed them on the hangers kept fastened to the underside of the porch ceiling.

An early Mother’s Day gift from her family, the lovely baskets are the product of the amazing horticulture department of our local technical school, led by a fellow teacher and friend of our daughter. No professional grower could have designed the colorful basket displays any more beautifully than their talented students.

Flowers have always been a traditional remembrance for Mother’s Day, especially timely during this spring planting and outdoor sprucing-up time of the year. And, hanging baskets have become a go-to floral decoration, enabling the color of bright blossoms in spots around our homes and gardens where it might otherwise be blank and barren.

Mother’s Day here always brings mixed emotions. Like so many of us, I’m blessed to have wonderful, thoughtful family and friends nearby, with whom I can share holiday thoughts and greetings. But, with both our mothers passed on to their heavenly rewards, we must rely on photos, mementos and memories when we remember and salute them at this time of year — for doing what mothers do.

Mothers, of various sorts, are never far away on a farm.

“Yeeeeoooooowwll!” came a loud, high-pitched wail from a distant corner of the old bank barn one evening last week. The pleading cry was immediately recognizable: a lost kitten.

At least once each spring, it will be necessary to retrieve a kitten that somehow, somewhere, manages to adventure from the upper level of the barn to the ground floor below. The upper level, with its dwindling stash of hay and straw, is always a favorite place for mother cats to have their young.

Small gaps between a couple of bales make a snug, secure and, at least for a while, secretive nest for newborn kittens. Like all children, though, kittens quickly grow, open their eyes, feel steady on their soft little feet, and become inquisitive. Soon, they find their way out of the hidden nest and begin exploring the world.

Let mother cat turn tail for just a brief time to go hunt, or maybe take a cat nap, and little paws sometimes wander off where they have no business. In our barn, that occasionally means a small kitten winds up on the barn’s lower level, with absolutely no clue as to how to return to the safety and security of mom and its littermates.

Hence, we hear the high-pitched yowling for rescue by somebody — anybody.

I’ve scrambled over, under and around assorted “stuff” stored in the barn to rescue lost kittens. Sometimes, the youngsters aren’t tame, and scoot away in fear of scary, would-be rescuers. So it’s not unusual to get clawed and scratched in the process of trying to retrieve the lost wanderers.

Fortunately, this latest lost kitten was fairly friendly, and actually came running from its hiding spot toward me when it heard a familiar sound. I scooped it up, cuddled it under my chin and toted it back upstairs to mom, who licked it in welcome, doing what moms do.

Another mother keeps a closer eye on her offspring — four downy goslings that hatched out last week at the ponds. Most of their time is spent lounging on the banks of the first pond, but the newly mown lawn apparently offers more green-eating attraction. As The Farmer watched one recent morning, the four youngsters came waddling up into the yard, nibbling grass as they meandered.

Mom goose followed slightly behind the busy babies, always watchful, and spied The Farmer some distance away. She promptly turned tail-feathers around and hustled off in the opposite direction, her youngsters toddling after her, obviously admonished to abandon their exploring and “get back here ... right now.”

It’s what moms everywhere are honored for this weekend: caring for, looking after, delivering sustenance to, providing shelter and safety, and yes, often warnings — doing what moms do.

So, thank you, moms everywhere. May you be extra-blessed this Mother’s Day.

Joyce Bupp is a freelance writer in York County, Pennsylvania.