It’s nice this time of year, when wandering in the woods, to chance upon the dogwoods peeking out along the trail. They seem to say, “Come on, we have chased the winter gloom away. Enjoy us while you can. We won’t last long.”
This year in the wild, they are subdued. A horrible drought two summers ago reduced their numbers. Now, a lingering winter has made their blooming both late and modest. Still, it is refreshing to walk through a stand of huge pines and spot the flowering dogwoods ahead. It speaks to diversity and how each species plays an important role in this amazing world.
Brenda’s dad loved the pines for their greenery in the dead of winter. Somehow they brought some cheer to his least favorite time of year. (I think the winter of 1944-45 that he spent in the Ardennes ruined him on winter forever). And the dogwoods? Well the dogwoods told him to be patient. The whole world would be green soon enough.
He told me once about driving his tractor from the fields on an early spring day, “I just looked around and saw everything about to bloom and I thought, ‘it’s great to be alive,’” I’ll always remember that day for it was only a few months before the early stages of Alzheimer’s took him away from us.
Then we watched the man who had made the Ruhr Valley Invasion when he was 21 turn into a helpless, silent, shell for whom the dogwoods no longer bloomed and life had no sustaining greenery.
So yesterday as I wandering, I thanked the dogwoods for their welcome, the pines for brightening our winter, and the rest of the woods for the magnificence into which they were about to explode.
In my younger days, I spent time in a land that was green year-round. While some might think that nice, I decided, along with some long-forgotten poet, that I needed “… four seasons in my year.” Winter comes for us all, and each spring, when the dogwoods bloom, we know how blessed we are to see them again. What a feeling. It's great to be alive.