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Posts Tagged ‘Spring’

Everyone in Maryland will be just as happy as these cows to see green grass and feel the warm temperatures of spring after this year’s long, cold winter. Enjoy!
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 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.

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As another ice storm approaches Wood’s Edge, I haul seed out by the bucketful to the wild birds perched on the branches of the trees and shrubs at the forest’s edge. Even with coat, hat, boots, and gloves, I shiver. I glance up at the heavy gray sky before filling the feeders. The chickadees, juncoes, wrens, cardinals, blue jays, red-winged blackbirds, sparrows, nuthatches, and tufted titmice (titmouses?) bravely swoop down and clothespin themselves to the perches of nearby feeders as I fumble with the first suet basket. Crows caw from the fence rail, several woodpeckers hop down the tree trunks, and a solitary hawk watches the goings-on with much interest.

 Meanwhile, Sandy the Black-mouthed Cur is bounding through the drifts, grabbing mouthfuls of snow, and rolling with abandon in the loose, fluffy snow in the corner of the yard. Joyful is the only word to describe her behavior. She looks at me, eyes bright, muzzle whitened by snow, tail wagging so hard the rear half of her body has joined its back & forth motion, and woofs. A playful woof that seems to say: The world is wonderful and isn’t it great to be alive!

Last winter seemed to be a long string of snowstorms. This winter appears to be much the same. I get lots of writing and drawing done it’s true, but I miss morning walks. Ice is not something I choose to tread upon when trying to manage an enthusiastic 60-pound dog. And tonight we expect more ice. 

But even as I cringe at the thought of another month of bad weather (and I suspect we shall get another month’s worth of frozen precipitation whether or not that famous Pennsylvania groundhog sees his shadow) — I think of crocuses and the sound of spring peepers. And since Sandy has only been with me since last June, I secretly wonder what she’ll think of frogs!

 And so, I share a quote from Anne Bradstreet: “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.” Indeed!  And if we had no winter, Sandy the Black-mouthed Cur would surely miss the snow.

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 Spring has finally come to our bit of yard near the edge of the woods. Even after the snowiest winter on record in Maryland, the dogwood trees are loaded with blossoms as if to confirm their symbolism. According to a reprinted version of Kate Greenaway’s 1884 book, “Language of Flowers,” dogwoods stand for durability.

Durability is an excellent attribute to have if you’re a smallish tree in a county that has bitter winters. It’s also an excellent trait to have if you’re a writer. You have to endure repeated rejection of your prose or verse. And even when an editor says, “Yes,” there are often multiple revisions to work on before the publishable version of the writing is ready for print.

At the foot of my favorite dogwood, which is rooted in the beginnings of the woods, are some snowdrops. Their nodding white flowers bloomed weeks ago when there was still snow hunkered down in the shadowy crevices of the forest. I recall the lovely blossoms, even though all that’s visible now are the spear-like leaves of the snowdrops.

It’s no wonder in floriography (the language of flowers) snowdrops symbolize hope. And hope is another characteristic that’s quite useful for a writer. Even when a publisher says,”No,” to one of your projects, you must push on. Writers submit and resubmit their stories to editors always hopeful that as they work on their craft, they will find a “home” for each tale.

On the north side of this dogwood tree there is some moss. It appears to be an ordinary moss to me, though a botanist would surely have a special name in both Latin and common tongue for this fuzzy member of the plant kingdom. According to Kate’s book, moss represents maternal love.

 Sometimes, writers think of their stories and illustrators consider their art work to be their children. How silly that sounds to many, but are these small creations not the result of months of incubation and hours of intense concentration as each detail is perfected? In the end, the birth of a tale or painting is followed by some loving discipline as the unruly bits are eliminated and new meritorious characteristics are added. The final step in the creative process, like motherhood (or fatherhood for that matter), is the sending forth of the child into the world — knowing even as you watch your little one climb onto the school bus or your envelope of poems vanish in the mailbox slot that what happens next is out of your control.

The world of writers and illustrators requires durability, hope, and tough love. But aren’t those also qualities each of us needs as we find our way through the maze of our day-to-day world?

 Learn more about Vonnie’s writing at www.vonniewinslowcrist.com

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