It is springtime in Virginia! The past few weeks have brought a fairly rapid warming, punctuated by cool snaps and violent thunderstorms; rushing, swollen rivers and the explosion of color everywhere in the dogwood trees, azaleas and my personal favorites, lilac bushes, wisteria and the Eastern Redbud trees.
I had never seen, or at least had never noticed, an Eastern Redbud tree until I visited Virginia back in 1993, not long before my husband and I were married. Everywhere along all the sides of the highways, one could see these lovely trees and shrubs, with their buds of a vibrant purplish-pink color providing a pop of color against the clean, fresh green of the emerging leaves of other trees. Bradford Pear trees with their white blossoms and almost perfect shapes and the different colors of dogwood trees join in the color concert, with the final glory being grabbed by the white, blue and lavender wisteria trees and vines and the delicate lilac flowers on spindly little bushes at the end of the drive into our property. My favorite, even though it is a tough choice, is still the Eastern Redbud.
These trees have demanded my attention - - almost as if they were yelling at me to look at them, or make note of their presence along my beaten path - - and I have cheerfully complied this year. I mentally greeted and checked off each one, with this morning’s trip into Fredericksburg being no exception.
And then, just like that, they were gone.
Oh, the trees are still there. The dogwoods continue to bloom, the azaleas are still flourishing and the wisteria flowers still hang in all their periwinkle blue and lavender lushness. But almost as if God flipped a switch during the hours I spent at work today, the Eastern Redbud’s “red buds” were replaced by fresh little green leaves this afternoon! The new clean shade of green is cool, soothing, and refreshing, and after all, green is my favorite color. But I already missed the purple-pinkness of the buds as I began my trek home this afternoon, with my non-driving focus becoming one of seeking out even one tree that still bore these little purple-pink buds. It was not until I left Warrenton heading west this evening that I finally saw a couple of them in mid-transition on the highway out of town! The abrupt changeover of so many trees at once is somehow jarring this year, and it is has left me a little wounded, a little sad, or perhaps nostalgic that another spring seems to be passing by just a little too rapidly.
The emergence of the leaves from within the redbuds marks the passing of another season of my life; indeed, Sunday will mark another anniversary of my birth. It always seemed that the redbuds were here for my birthday, and I’ll continue to miss them this year, even as I have enjoyed them for the past several weeks. The ornamental Bradford Pear trees turned from white to green somewhat abruptly a week or two ago, but not this quickly. The weather has turned suddenly hot from somewhat chilly (for us), with few of the perfect, idyllic seventy degree days to which I have grown fond in my advancing years since moving back east from California. April showers have been in the form of violent thunderstorms for the most part, with the odd tornado here and there; I have to wonder about the probability of May flowers, as the old saying goes.
The heat and humidity are making their presence felt all too quickly; we need a few more weeks of temperatures in the mid seventies, with little humidity. We need more days with a warm sun and a cool breeze; gentle afternoons with nothing to do but laze in the porch swing and dream of another time when the first loves of our adult lives were new, fresh and innocent, and the responsibilities of life still seemed far, far away. The present moment was all there was; we didn’t have pasts to forget or sins to be forgiven, and the future was a still a few nightmares off. We didn’t have wrinkles or sagging skin, gray hair or extra stress-fueled belly fat, and we didn’t need reading glasses to see the print at the end of our arms’ ever shortening reaches.
Summer will be here before long, bringing with it the reality of the sun’s harsh, unforgiving light and heat of responsibility and I’m not ready for it. I’m not ready for the newly grown grass to wither and die, or the red clay soil of our yard to crack, just as my hair continues its slow graying or thinning and my face its wrinkling and sagging. I’m not ready to pull up a rocking chair and my knitting that I’ve recently once again taken up.
Not this year.
This year, I want to enjoy a good “beach read”, whatever that is, although I think I’ll do it without the sand in my toes and the inevitable sunburn. This is the year I’ve sent away to get a new passport and I’m finally going to plan that trip to Wales, and possibly Scotland or Ireland. I’m going to finally clean out that loft room and set up the easel, canvasses and see if those paints I have are still good enough to mix and smear on with a brush. And if they are, I’ll see if I have sufficient creative talent to make something recognizable and beautiful with them!
I’m continuing with my exercise program and newly formed eschewing of gluten, overly processed foods and all but the rarely occasioned bit of chocolate, while embracing healthy proteins, fruits and vegetables. I’m trying to reorient my night-owl persona to one more amenable to quiet early mornings. I’m paying attention to sunrises and sunsets, often commemorating them in photographs.
Most of all, I want to reestablish my personal centering prayer life, in the meditative posture that brings me into the presence of God in the same figurative way as sitting silently with the loves of my life, watching the river flowing by on seventy degree days with that warm sun and cool soothing breeze, while enjoying the vantage point of a bank replete with blooming lilac, wisteria and - - you got it - - Eastern Redbud trees.
May our Lord richly bless you in this and every season!