The sun arrived on Sunday with unrestrained radiance as the wet earth raised her arms to beg for more. The next morning, cold and gray again, small green buds everywhere had inched up from their shyness to unfurl a pinch more.
Sunday afternoon we set out for High Tor Wildlife Management Area and a trail new to us. No one was there! The week before we biked the Keuka Outlet trail and had never seen so many people along the pathway. Every parking area was full but most disconcerting was how many large groups swarmed the open areas, maskless and cavalier as if the pandemic were a silly old ghost story. From the looks of it, the trail we discovered by foot this week has never been highly traversed.
A spring forest is not lush as when wearing summer green, nor vibrant with colors like its autumn incarnation. Instead, a spring forest offers its winter view of open spindles and arms gilded with the slightest hint of green. But every green shoot pushing up through the brown mulch of last season’s leaves, and each young tree with blossoming petals, shouts their special elegance within the surrounding ashen gray and brown bark of the trees. A spring forest allows the wanderer to see through it naked of leaves and no longer covered with snow. In other words, with a whole new field of vision the relationships of growing things to the contours of the land are revealed.
The ankle deep carpet of dried oak, hickory, and maple leaves make a joyous autumn sound crunching and swishing with nearly every step. Some of the leaves are still open palms even after several seasons on the floor, now so thin and delicate light bleeds through them. Others are dry and brittle pieces, a less graceful giving way to the dissolution drawing them into soil. The ghostly remains of an old giant rested across the path in one place, its moist reddened splinters only an outline of a once mighty tree. I wondered if a hundred years of life would require ten decades of death to dissolve something so big into the darkness of soil.
I miss hugs. I miss laughter and sweet conversations around the table dwindling with the candles melting in their holders. I miss the easy comradery of groups that gather with routine. I yearn for the return of these and more, like going to visit our children and grandchild. Yet, and still, the joy of that quiet walk in the forest was as if social isolation was not a pall covering us all. Instead, it was a reminder that green life is returning like it always does – on its own time, in its own way, each year a unique sequence and display.
So again, I am reminded that stubbornly resisting the things we cannot change and refusing to accept true powerlessness, robs us of a unique field of vision. By giving up our resistance to powerlessness, we suddenly begin to see what we could not see before and even feel the presence of life around us we didn’t notice before. Whether it
is the weather, cycles of nature, aging, pandemic and the need to adjust our lifestyles, embracing rather than resisting that which is greater than ourselves, opens our vision and delivers insight.