We’ve been discussing the Postmodern idea in one of my classes that there are no new stories around. Everything is a re-utterance of the past. It’s the idea that history repeats itself (or as my wife would correct me, “trends in history” repeat themselves). Creation, death, dragons, unicorns, Thor—all archetypes from around the world throughout history.
In our efforts to clean out and pack up to gear up for the move, I rarely find the time to appreciate these re-utterances. Mainly, it’s one kid messing something up while the other kid is trying to build something (Hello? Russia? Is that you?). But this past weekend, I had an hour of (semi) silence to pack up the car before we went on vacation. Admittingly, I skipped church in order to have everything ready while the wifelet and offspring remembered the Sabbath.
I did my chores—unloaded the dishwasher, changed over the laundry, picked up some road beverages for the kids—and had about 10 minutes until the crew showed back up. In this 10 minutes, I got to watch a reminder.
We have a redbud tree at the front of the driveway. It provides so many reminders for me.
At the start of autumn, its huge leaves trigger that feeling in me that it’s almost time to deal with a plethora of leaves (For eight years I mulched up the leaves with my push mower. I happened to get a riding mower this past summer. It’s a new world now).
During winter—albeit our fickle Mississippi winters—it reminds me how bare our world can be, in a good way. The tree looks like a huge skeleton hand sticking out of the ground. I love it, because it’s nice to strip away the décor and discover what’s essential in an item. I know. How transcendental of me, but it’s true. Plus, Transcendetalism is one of my favorite units I teach (And it’s not just because that means we’re a week away from Christmas break).
It’s springtime, now. For a few weeks, Redbud Trees get to be the solo stars in nature’s awakening. If you live in Mississippi (or the South, in general), you’ll be able to see purple blooms popping up in the middle of the gray woods. The honey bees have already found the early blooms. I’m telling you, look for the Redbuds on your drives around town.
There’s nothing more beautiful than the bleak, cold, wet, bare forests along the Natchez Trace with a sprinkling of Redbud blossoms grinning from behind the dormant winter. They are, to me, that concrete painting of Percy Blysshe Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind.”
“…if Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”
Fork in the Road? Take it.
The older I get, the more I remember to appreciate the good times as well as the bad times. Without utter bad times, there would be no utter good times. I told a student one day during a really bad time in her life, sometimes our goal is simply to survive the bad times. If we imagine our happiness on a number line, and we get 4 sad points, then to get to a +8, we would have to have 12 happy points. If someone else is at a +6, they don’t get to experience the amount of positivity we get going from a negative 4. (That make sense?)
Mississippi summers are brutal. They can literally cause blisters on your skin. This is the only place where the humidity exceeds 100% and people still try to dress like it’s 74 degrees outside. During those summer months, I’m so glad I’m a teacher. I don’t have to dress like a real human being. When I worked at the CL, I remember walking two blocks in the morning from my parking spot to the office during July and being soaking wet for the rest of the day. I do not miss that.
That being said, I appreciate those muggy days. And I appreciate days like this past Sunday when the Redbuds are in bloom. I get to live in such a seasonal world. Instead of complaining that it’s cold or hot, I need to pocket those days and bring them out so I can compare them.
This Bud’s for Someone Else
I didn’t plant that tree, but I certainly did maintain it. It grew a bit, and needed some pruning. I doubt that when it was planted, the intention was to impact someone’s life like it has. Most of the time, these trees grow wild, so there’s not really a real intention in their planting. Yet again, another reminder; so many people we encounter are not here for one purpose or another. Instead, there are many hats we wear in our journey. We can choose what kind of reminder others are to us by choosing where we want to land on the number line.
Bitterness, jealousy, anger, and all those negative things will certainly set you back. But choosing to bloom while everything else remains asleep will have an impact.
Negativity spreads like a cancer, but positivity inspires the rest of nature to awake. Those blooms and bees certainly do make the rest of nature get on the ball.
Bring on the blooms and invasive weeds, pollinators and wasps, stuffy heads and Zyrtec.
And be sure to have some tissue. Gazoontite.