Along the Appalachian Trail this weekend, hikers greeted spring. Flowering redbud reached for sunlight; dogwoods unaware of the blight afflicting their brethren bloomed their crucifix flowers. The understory seemed to leaf out as we watched.
Underfoot, Dutchmen’s breeches and all manner of wildflowers strutted their stuff. Everything seemed as it should in April; the only reminder that this was a season like no other were the masks polite passersby pulled from their pockets as they passed, traveling in the opposite direction, nodding Good Morning with collective eye twinkles not seen in a year.
The Shenandoah Valley below turned green after the morning rains. On pastures near the trail, steer chewed the sweet new grass oblivious to the people passing. The youngest calves finally gave up crying for the mamas to run and play. Yes, even the bovine seemed ready to move on.
Was it only a week ago that we wrapped the blossoming peach and apple trees in tarps against the cold? And ten days since a morning snow squall kept the hens huddled indoors till noon?
Was it only a year ago that we lined up in our cars to retrieve school kids for “two week break” that, for some, will continue till June 2021? And all the rest of it. All of it.
But there was beauty. Walks along the river with kids who would otherwise be way too busy for us. College kids we thought were gone forever, home again for extended stays. Game nights, with the winner memorialized in the box top — and sometime in August, finally, Dad wins a game. It’s there, in ink!
Sadness, too. Parents who died from growing old, but alone, leaving families and friends without the opportunity to grieve in gatherings. To tell stories, to laugh and cry together.
Then, Spring. Is it possible?
Two jabs in the arm. Then, slow dancing to James Taylor with a sweet friend. Then, Easter with Mom. Then, sipping bourbon with buddies, still outdoors but, hey, it’s spring. And, then, a postcard arrives. Save the date. A July wedding. A college buddy’s daughter. A reunion of sorts. It is possible.
Tomorrow is uncertain. Tonight, though, the windows are open, and frogs are singing in the trees. Last year’s rosemary and sage are going strong. In our little corner of the world, we hope we never forget every blessing, every kindness, every act of love, every prayer that got us through.
That’s what we have, what we share.
— David Lillard