By this time of early Spring–a little more than three weeks after the Vernal Equinox–the first rays of the morning Sun touch down in the backyard around 7:30. Situated on the gentle west slope of Richardson Hill, I can see the day’s light arriving on the ridge a half mile away before the Sun reaches here. Now and then I think how it is that the Earth’s spin has us actually whirling eastward. It isn’t really that we see the Sun and Moon rising….it’s us constantly zinging towards their light. For a moment I’m bemused by this reminder and then let it go once again.
As of this writing, we’ve somehow managed to make our way through a full year of the Corona virus pandemic, navigating its rough waters as best we could. I vividly recall the absolute shock it was in those first several weeks. It all descended so quickly leaving us disoriented in the sudden huge adjustments of day to day living. There was such unsettling enormity of so much unknown about nearly all of it. And here in my otherwise idyllic rural Upstate home, I watched the horrors of the virus’s impact unfolding in New York City only a few hours drive away. Adding to the bleakness, April’s dreary wet and cold weather extended on with little let-up until early May.
And even when Spring warmth and sun finally found us bringing a most-welcome boost, the unthinkable tragedy of George Floyd’s murder triggered a fresh assault on heart and spirit. Fires blasted Australia’s lands. News of the pandemic’s inexorable effect around the world required its own attention. The economic tailspin for countless people was occurring everywhere, far and near. The acrimony of the presidential election cycle inundated all of us for long months hardly ceasing in vitriol after November 6th. If we can just make it to January 20th safely, I thought. And then the shocking scenes of the January 6th insurrection at the US Capitol. Listing all this (and hardly a complete List) makes me wonder how have we survived? And yet we have….we are. We have survived. We are here in another April.
I found fresh hope in the Inauguration’s blessedly peaceful transition to the new administration of President Joe Biden and our first woman Vice President, Kamala Harris. In gratifying tandem the increasing availability of the Covid vaccines and by Spring, the rapidly rising rates of vaccinations. This week’s celebration of my April birthday will be with family and hugging will be “safe” to do once more. I’ve been getting emotional just thinking about it. A year without hugging has been really tough.
My refuge all these months has been this beautiful seven acres and the surrounding wooded hills and old farm fields. I’ve shared its serene beauty through my YouTube channel with videos offering some of its peace and joy even if it’s virtual. The reassuring cycle of the four seasons has brought us once more to Spring. And yet unexpected and upsetting things are part of this tranquil landscape too.
Two weeks ago high winds brought blustery and cold weather, an echo of Winter. One night the wind howled in terrific gusts making for restless sleep. It wasn’t for a few more days that I ventured out for my morning “woods ramble”. As I crossed the stream into the hemlocks I gasped at the sight of one of the oldest ones prone on the ground. It was out of sight from the house windows so this felling awaited discovery upon my return to the woods.
At first it’s almost inconceivable that a healthy hemlock could have been just snapped off at its base as it clearly had been by the powerful winds. Its huge bulk–60 to 70 feet in height–lay among its neighbors. Amazingly it came down without damaging any others, the nearby hemlocks grouped in witness and solidarity. I noted that it had fallen towards the East, logical in that the storm came out of the West. Its trunk and branches, which will ultimately shed their green needles, will forever point towards the sunrise.
There has been so much loss, so much to grieve for in this pandemic year. The fallen hemlock brought fresh grief for me, the Resident Human of this place. In the days since I’ve offered a simple ceremony to honor its life here in this woodland I call Lightspring Glen. Offsetting this sadness though is the certainty that this great and beautiful Earth-home is spinning us slowly deeper into Spring, the days’ light steadily and delightfully lengthening. Summer’s sunny weeks and verdant green growth await all. May we do our best to be open to this constant Wonder and miracle, and to be forever grateful for how daily we fall into the Light.