I’ve just returned home from a visit to my uncle in Laurel Springs. The journey back and forth to the North Carolina mountains was long, but the time spent with him was wonderful. And even in the most normal day-to-day activities, writing and art inspirations were present.
On the drive south (and on the return drive north), the forsythia, Bradford pears, redbuds, and crab apple trees contrasted with the ever-present pines and splashed the Virginia and North Carolina hillsides with color. In particular, I found the deep purplish pink blooms of the redbuds (also known as Judas trees) stunning. There were swatches along I-81 awash in vivid purple-pink from these small trees. And upon arriving at my uncle’s home, the trio of weeping cherry trees along his driveway greeted me with their gnarled trunks and streaming branches of pink blossoms.
How easy it is to believe in dryads – those lovely wood nymphs who are bound to their own particular tree, and carefully look after it. Typically shy, they will occasionally dance in the shadows of the forest or in the moonlight. The twisted trunks of my uncle’s weeping cherries did indeed have a womanly shape to them, and the strands of blossoms that sprang from the top of the trunks looked like locks of hair. Oreads, or mountain pine tree nymphs, seemed to watch from their swaying evergreens on the slope behind my uncle’s home. Known for being a bit testy – I let them be.
Always careful to honor nature, and cherish her creatures whether animal or plant or something magical – I did not snip a few branches of cherry blooms to pop in a canning jar. Though they’d have been a cheerful addition to the kitchen table, I didn’t want to hear the tree’s spirit screaming as I cut through its flesh. Not to mention, the revenge for hurting (or worse destroying) a dryad’s tree can be quite dreadful.
Instead, I brightened my uncle’s kitchen with a bunch of narcissus that I’d plucked from the edge of the woods back home, and transported to Laurel Springs in a Mason jar. What a joy to celebrate Spring with her promise of new beginnings – even as I watch my uncle slip away.