We’ve returned to the cabin, and the fall leaves that captured us months ago are now gray or dark brown, blown into ditches or other clumps of decay that will soon be part of nature’s mulch. The spring is slower here than in the eastern part of North Carolina where the dogwoods, azaleas and redbud have
already finished their bloom. In the mountains, leaves are just beginning to appear on trees, the pollen just beginning to make itself known in our wheezes and sneezes.
There is no melancholy here. Jim’s beehives literally buzz with the activity of their complex society while we protect the hives from bears and other predators with barbed wire and an electric fence and prepare for the collection and planting of seeds from the early wildflowers. It is a busy time.
But each morning we take time to walk our little dogs down the moss floored path to the waterfall and each evening we walk the paved road in the other direction, watching for Wooly Adelgids on the branches of the hemlocks. Perhaps the late frost will have killed their larvae this year, and the trees will not need spraying. Many of these ancient trees have been lost to this blight in recent years, but Jim has been diligent in protecting those he can.
Traffic is rare, so the dogs can run ahead, sniffing, exploring, and marking every vertical clump of vegetation. We always keep them in sight because of coyotes and the potential of running into a sunning snake or a mother bear and cub. Some things don’t respond well to wagging tails and friendly barks.
This morning as we walked, Jim handed me bouquets of dandelions and violets, the only flowers he picks. He loves endangered wildflowers but despises the invasive ones that survive regardless of climate and disease, often at the expense of others. He grumbled, “Dandelions and violets will inherit the earth.” Guess I prefer that to the roach theory.
We ended our walk at a fallen tree where Jim sat on an upturned log he had cut from its center to allow us to pass through. I surprised him by sitting on his lap and putting my arms around him.
“So, Uncle Remus,” I whispered with a husky Marilyn Monroe affectation, “tell me a story; spin me a yarn.”
He smiled and without hesitation responded, “Once upon a time, there were two little dogs. One was white; the other was white with tan spots. They were different breeds but thought they were brothers. They owned two people. They told the people when to feed them, when to walk them, and when it was time to go to bed.” I burst out laughing. At that moment, Chico (the white dog with tan spots) sneezed. Dandelion fluff covered his face.
It was a moment to treasure. I find, as I get older, that it is easier to remember the good moments than the bad. When I was younger, I held on to angers and slights, remembering every negative word spoken, every cruel act, particularly following divorce. It was many years before I could look back on a broken marriage and recall any happiness in our time together. What a terrible waste of energy and emotion. But I suppose that is another kind of survival.
Sometimes I wish I believed in reincarnation. I wish we could come again with the seeds of knowledge from past lives to help us lead a wiser, kinder life with each new birth. I just finished a book about children who are born with specific memories of a previous life. It is called The Forgetting Time, and although it is a work of fiction, it contains references and quotes from documented research on this phenomenon.
A few days ago, Jim pulled an unidentified plant growing in the path and showed it to me. The simple elegance of its unique design seemed a miracle. As we are surrounded in the spring by nature’s rebirth, why not consider a rebirth of the human spirit? Is that any more or less a miracle than what we can see and hold in our hands every day? Just a wishful thought.
I often hear that youth is wasted on the young. I think that really means that wisdom is wasted on the old. But I prefer to believe that wisdom is the culmination of learning from the misadventures of youth and is our late but saving grace.
Doris Schneider, author
find my books on Amazon: Borrowed Things and By Way of Water