One of the things I love about traveling to other parts of the country in fall and spring is seeing the way the seasons roll across the land east to west—like the sun, only slower. A few weekends ago I attended an arts conference in Colorado. I left Southwest Virginia as the oaks and tulip poplars—those slowest to bud–were finally deciding it safe to unfurl. The forsythia had long exhausted their yellow waterfalls of color. My fruit trees were solid masses of sprawling green; the last of their cottony pink brilliance long spent. The only naked places left were the mountainsides higher than my own.
But when I touched down in the Rocky Mountains west, it was as if I had flown back in time. Now, granted, the Rockies are vastly different to those of Appalachia South, as is the nature that grows and blooms in spring. Never will it be as green in Colorado as it is in Virginia. And yet, despite the rock and scrubby juniper, it was clear springtime was just beginning to yawn and stretch herself awake.
Mother Nature’s timeline reminds me that we live inside multiple timelines; not all of them linear. This is a beautiful truth. One I would do well to live into during these days.
By ‘these days’ I mean this time of year. The months heading into summer are always intense for our family. Spring sports, school year wrap-ups, and squeezing in every blessed make-up game, forgotten sports banquet, formal event…on and on, before Memorial Day.
And, this spring, we are graduating our second child from high school.
In these extreme seasons (culture’s, not nature’s) I find it hard to stand upright against time’s forward momentum. It acts like some crazy undertow determined to take me down and drag me ‘til I drown. I may stay upright—I’m pretty stubborn. But that’s about it. In every other way, the terrible driving pace of ‘these days’ shrivels me.
Maybe this is why nature’s way of being appeals to me so. I guarantee the Rocky Mountain meadows aren’t competing with my own Southern Appalachian wildflowers for first bloom of the spring. The deciduous trees of New England aren’t trying to get ahead of those in Georgia. The birds aren’t trying to beat the rush.
If any of them did try defying their particular ordering of time, they’d die. Or come into the season incredibly weakened and diminished. Instead, nature lives by the unique rhythmic pulses running through their particular places. The slow intensifying of the sun on their faces and warming soil around their roots. The feel of rain and not snow. Water in motion, not solid ice.
At the end of my weekend I flew home to the mountain south and was greeted with the rush of green from every direction. This was full on celebration. And thank goodness for it. Because I stepped off the plane and into a pace of life going NASCAR speed with a non-responsive brake pedal. For two weeks straight.
Now is another Monday. The third one since my nature time warp. There’s a fog outside my window padding my mountaintop like quilt batting, making silver the air and satisfying both the forest and my perennial garden with its gauzy mist. Even though I can barely see beyond my own hill’s slope, the outside looks expansive to me. It beckons me to live within its slow and abundant way of being.
But, here on this side of my window, my day planner sits on my desk open to the week. Each day’s long rectangular space is penciled in with appointments, meetings, one more make-up baseball game, and a few white spaces I know won’t be white for long. The minutes on my computer screen keep notching away, reminding me no matter how much I desire it, I’m beholden to living by the hourglass, with its sand continually running through to empty.
Already I’m vying for another trip. Something to break into this speeding bullet pace.
But there is no trip. Nothing more given than the time given for today.
Then again, nothing less, either.
Copyright 2019 by Shari L. Dragovich