Just as lightning flashes across the western sky, followed quickly by rolls of thunder with a violent shaking of our sheltered home, summer pushes the joys of spring out so quickly that we must take a sharp, deep breath to lavish in its beauty before it is gone. As I clean out my fathers house, gently touching old drawings and clay creations from my youth, I remember how fast life has gone by. Yesterday, my children laughed and played as I taught them about nature. Today, I smile, and wipe a tear, as I see my children teaching their little ones these same lessons.
One day, it seems, the tiny green buds of spring leaves appear, the daffodills cover old pastures and fields, and snowball bushes explode in white and seem to wither before our eyes. I sat with my little ones at the bus stop, watching spring chasing winter away. We would see the progression of azalea blooms in yards, first the magenta, then the white. I remember the sping walks in the forest, where, with luck, the lovely flame azalea could be seen in a shade of orange that man could never quite tame for front lawns. Today, a grandchild brings me a boquet of flowers, reciting their names, just as I did with their mom.
Spring is but a flash of light between the ice of winter and the sweat of July. The dogwoods fade before we can embrace them, the walks in the forest when the leaves have just begun to bud and the ephermal wild flowers dash to grasp fleeting days of sun before the leaves of deciduous giants steal their sunlight and thus their season. As we grow old, we learn of natures ways, just as the plants seem to know when the season is right. We no longer allow ourselves to be fooled by a few weeks of warmth.
One day, we notice the tiny shoots of summer perennials as we await the endless “winters” of the mountain springs. “Don’t bother to plant your garden before the stealthy ‘winters’ have finally disappeared”, the old-timers warned us. “Won’t do no good-weather will kill them ever time”, our uncles and grandfathers would laugh as we, their youthful students rushed to plant seeds before it was time. Now, it is me, my generation, who issue the warnings to the young.
I remember, as I sit in my parents now silent home, how the disappointment of the cold spell in April that grandma called, “dogwood winter”,and the “told you so” nod from my father when “blackberry winter” made me sad. The cold that layed frost on the tips of plants in early May has now come and gone and left signs of age on me as well.
Each year, we plant new seeds, shelter the perrenials and watch as time flies by. Soon, the summers black-eyed susans and pumpkin colored butterfly weeds are covered with swallowtails and monachs as they dart about, hiding tiny eggs beneath the sheltering leaves. I notice how my garden has grown smaller each year, just as my grandchildren now see their parents toil away as I one did.
The sun we welcomed in spring has us seeking shade in summer. At last we are all in the same place, leaning against the old apple tree. I remember that soon fall will chase away summer, just as summer moved in on spring. I close my eyes and remember teaching my kids of the majesty of nature, so thankful, and perhaphs a bit surprised that in this modern age, my children still take time to marvel at natures magic with their own little ones.
As quickly as a flash of light, autumn will cast its shadow upon the land, just as it has cast its weathered skin on me. “Life is but a slide show of memories to me.” I whispered to my grandchild. “What’s a slide show?” she asked, as again, that flash of light appeared in the evening sky. “A series of pictures that tell a story.” I said with a smile. “Oh.” she giggled as she snatched a daisy and placed it behind her ear, twirling in the sun.
For a moment, I saw her mother there, before me, with a flower I had put in her hair, and then my mother placing a tiny rose amist my curls. Life really was likea slide show-a series of pictures-of memories, that tell us a story. In spite of technology, cell phones, and texting, the life cycles of plants and animals were still the same. Those special little moments, if we take the time, are still the same.
***Look for my blog on the life cycle of the Polyphemus moth coming soon-We can’t rush nature. How many children (or adults) have watched the entire life cycle of a butterfly. Moth, or praying mantis? Mine have, and my grandchildren have.Hopefully, their children will, as well.