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I am blessed with a job that requires that I drive through beautiful countryside to get there. When I can be disciplined enough to turn off the news as I take the trip, those twenty minutes can be just what I need to get myself in a good place before work or they can give me time to reflect on the day and discharge before arriving back home. Rolling mountains, horses, cows, wild turkeys striking poses worthy of a Thanksgiving painting...even the trains rolling in and out of town along the New River help me center myself and remember that there's more to life than what they tell us about on the news.
My favorite time of year is right before the junction between winter and spring; my favorite part of the drive is right before I enter Radford. On that part of the drive the first color that emerges is pink from the redbud trees that hug the highway tightly on both sides. It creates a breathtaking passageway that never fails to take my breath away for a few precious days, before the pink, brown, and grey slowly takes on that greenish hue that seems to let off it's own luminosity.
This past spring I was surprised by a lesson I learned thanks to one particular redbud branch. I had noticed through the winter that there was a gigantic redbud branch that had snapped during a particularly bad wind storm and was hanging on to the rest of the tree by just a few strands of bark , with the tip resting on the side of the highway. I didn't think much of it until that wonderful day when I went around the bend and knew that it was redbud week. When I drove by the broken branch I was shocked to see that the branch was in full bloom, just like its more healthy siblings. Perhaps it's silly and I look for way too much significance in everything, but this one branch, seemingly defying its destiny, moved and inspired me the rest of the week as it unabashedly flaunted the life it had stored up inside all season. The lesson in it for me was that if we can spend our lives storing up all the energy we can - all the sweetness, all the experiences that give us life - we are capable of anything, even in the darkest times.
What a thing to learn from a tree. Well, I'll take it. Gladly. And I'm going to keep the news off and my ears and eyes open from now on.