Summer heals the wounds of winter the way time and skin cream evaporate a routine scar. I have been thinking about both summer and scars lately.
Scars, because I have two minor surgical wounds healing, both on my face where superficial (non-threatening) skin cancers were removed. One site received stiches and I presume will melt nicely back into place and not be noticed after a bit. The other, right on top of my bald head, is big as a quarter and will take months to disappear if at all.
Summer, because I am watching its accumulative arrival daily, sometimes it seems almost hourly. Squirrels, racoon, rabbits, and more kinds of birds than I can name have been rocking out in my yard, and in the adjacent yards too, as if a passel of ten-year olds on the day school lets out for summer. And the dogs out walking their people! Oh, my goodness, where did they all come from?
I read recently that the roots of Prairie grasses can be as much as 70% of the plant and delve twenty feet into the earth. Fire, drought, and ice-cold winters be damned, they are safe down there and recover from any losses on the surface as seasons change. But then that seems to be the principle of hearty and vibrant green growing things.
Our yard is full of luscious verdant vegetation we did not plant, and this being only our second summer, we keep getting happily surprised by the variety and abundance of the perennial flora. Cut away or shriveled into the soil last fall, we are surrounded by an enveloping moat of green now.
Winter ice seeps into the soil, a hardened expansion of moisture that cracks cement, brick, and earth alike. The snow, a beautiful façade of white nonetheless kills both fragile and hearty surface foliage with its cold clasp. In the ugliness of early spring, it all looks ruined and as if the scars of winter will never heal. Then bloom! A silent bang of life flowers back into the open.
My scars? Not so much. For people, even as we bloom, the roots of our youth sink so deep they never return to the surface. We still have the warmth and wisdom of our youth glowing like embers within our memories, but unlike the relentless renewal of perennial foliage, we are more like annuals planted for a season only to perish and then fertilize the soil for perennials.
I suppose it is the inability to live with the knowledge that our lives are really only a single season in the expanse of time, that drives some people to cosmetic surgery to reverse the scars of routine aging. But I for one, will be pleased when enough old age has arrived to throttle every last bit of vanity.
The ancient oak that graces the yard next door has so many knobs and scars, bulges, bumps, and leafless limbs waiting to fall off or be blown down in a storm, that it wouldn’t be chosen for the cover of any home and garden magazine. Still, it cradles a jubilation of life in nearly every limb and smiles with wizened beauty in every season. I want to learn to think of myself that way, rather than as the haughty and anxious annuals so nervously focused upon their bloom.