April 26, 2022

Dutch crocuses are abloom!


We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us.”



There were flowers poking their multicolored manes into the air yesterday!  Dutch crocuses are early bloomers and, true to their nature, they were already showing off their splendor.  It’s in the high thirties today, but yesterday, it reached sixty degrees!   Along with the warmth came a chorus of birdsong of many different voices, melodically welcoming the approach of spring.  Today, the birds are quiet and the crocuses have closed their blossoms.  They jumped the gun.  Sigh.

Waldo and I, we are not deterred by the balking of spring.  We’re out on the trail, doing our thing, just like most other days.  The temperature isn’t bad, not when you dress for it.  Even the gusts of wind can be easily deflected by a good jacket, hood and gloves.  You really don’t need that much to be comfortable in most weather.  You just have to know the forecast so you can prepare for it.  Except Waldo.  He don’t need no stinking forecast.  He has his sable birthday suit.

Predictability is nice.  In the twenty-first century, man has gotten pretty good at predicting the weather in the short and medium term.  Even with the mess that climate change has wrought.  A hundred years ago, things were much different.  The best that could be done is that you could stick your head out the door, feel the air, smell the odors it carried, look at the clouds, determine which way the wind was blowing, notice what the animals were doing, glance at the barometer and use your past experience to make a guess as to what was going to happen in the weather for that day.  And often get it wrong.   Today, in so many ways, and not just with the weather, one can anticipate what is going to happen with a good chance of getting it right.  That makes you feel safe and cozy.

Safety, and some degree of comfort, is clearly a good thing.  But in seeking that, we can, and do, take the spice out of life.  There is joy in experiencing the unexpected.  A good surprise is a wonderful thing.  Unpredictability can also be a desirable challenge, one that stretches your abilities and causes you to grow as a human being and expand the horizons of what you can do.  During my lifetime, I’ve had many such experiences and relish them all.  You just have to learn how to be flexible so you can effectively cope with unpredictability.

Once, not that long ago, my brother, two nephews, a grandnephew and I went on a canoe trip on the Boundary Waters in Minnesota.  We had maps with us, but no GPS.  On the maps were marked portages, places where you take the canoes out of the water and carry them a short distance to another body of water.  But on a good-sized lake, some distance from shore, they were not easy to see.  More than once, I was at a loss and could only point the canoe in a general compass direction and hope for the best.  Then I noticed the horizon.  The lakes of the area are bounded by low hills.   Hills that formed an undulating horizon.  When I noticed that, it occurred to me that all I had to do was point the boat toward the low spot on the horizon.  The portage had to be that way.  No one would portage over the top of a hill, the portage would be where a trail could go around the hills.  That got us to shore near where the portage must be and it was a simple matter of just finding where a trail came down to the shore.

Another time, on the same trip, we were slogging our way through a watery grassland where tall grass grew in water that was almost too shallow for our canoes.  There were channels of clear water, not much wider than our boats, that wound their way through the swamp.  The map showed that there was a way through, but didn’t offer any advice as to which of the watery lanes to take when we came to a fork.  We definitely wanted to go the way the water was flowing, but there was very little current, so it wasn’t obvious which way to go.  Then I noticed that there was grass lying flat under the canoe.  The current made it all line up in the same direction.  It was pointing in the direction the water was flowing.  All we had to do was follow where the grass pointed.  We made no wrong turns.

I could never have wonderful adventures like these if I only ventured out my door when I knew, with a high degree of certainty, what my day would be like.  Safety and comfort are nice, but adventure is the spice of life.

Waldo is now a little over three and a half years old.  We’ve walked this same rail-trail literally a thousand times.  Yet, still, every time we’re out here, Waldo seems to approach it as if it were his first time.  Every day is different – different smells, new sticks and a wide variety of people and dogs to meet.  I think he takes his safety and warm comfy home for granted, which leaves him open to greet our walks with an eager openness, ready for whatever unexpected thing might happen.

I must be doing something right.


Everyday, more and more green appears.

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