May 3, 2022

Bitter dock has sprouted leaves.


There’s a beauty to be found in the changing of the earth’s seasons, and an inner grace in honoring the cycles of life.

-Jack Kornfield


It’s been warm the past few days, with temps in the 50s and low 60s.  I’m walking down the trail, Waldo is tugging a bit at the leash, and I notice green on some low-lying branches.  I pause, tell Waldo to wait (he’s good about that), and I move closer.  An autumn olive bush has sprouted little, but definite, light green leaves at the ends of its branches.  Waldo patiently waits for me as I look around for more.  Sure enough, they’re there.   There’s honeysuckle with twiggy, bone-like, green-tipped fingers reaching outward.  True, they’re tiny, but they’re definitely leaves.  I also find Japanese barberry and northern spicebush sticking little verdant plumes skyward.  Off the trail, in and near a small stream that carries the run-off from a recent rain, there are broad leafed clumps of skunk cabbage, bitter dock and garlic mustard.  On the hill beyond, multiflora rose bushes show tufts of bright red as well as small leaflets.  It’s as if the underbrush is trying to get a jump on the large trees and start soaking up the life-giving rays of the sun before they get buried in shadow by the overlying dense leafage that will inevitably come.

The grass too is getting greener every day.  Late last fall, a commercial company dug some trenches next to the trail in order to bury some fiberoptic cable.  They filled them in with loosely packed dirt (that was a pain in the butt when it rained and made swampy mud for Waldo to sink into up to his belly) and sprayed seed over the top.  Today, I saw blades of grass poking up a few inches above this otherwise barren ground.  They were scattered and sparse, but they showed that, despite the abuse of the winter snow and spring rain and runoff, there was viable greenery there, just waiting for warmer temperatures to turn into a well-formed lawn.  After seeing what running water, doggy paws and human boots had done to the soil, I was doubtful that the grass seed would weather its abuse.  But life will find a way.

I think it’s no great wonder that many religions believe in reincarnation of one form or another. Life does have a cyclic nature to it.  Every living thing is brought to life, there’s a period of growth and development, a strengthening and maturation, followed by some length of time of full adulthood, then a slow deterioration to ultimate death.  Some things, like perennial plants, will follow many cycles of growth and development followed by deterioration, without death, throughout their lives.  Others don’t seem to be able to do it more than once, but the recurring seasons with their predictable rejuvenation in spring, suggests that maybe those other organisms don’t just end their existence with death, but rather morph into other living things somehow, and continue another kind of cycle.  The truth of that is beyond my poor ability to understand.

There are longer cycles as well.  Civilizations emerge, grow, flourish and then die in Malthusian cycles.  Earthly life as a whole has been through many mass extinctions in the distant past, yet it persists.  Life flourishes, diversifies, producing hosts of species, fills every nook and cranny and every ecological niche, then the biome shrinks and species die off, leaving opportunities for other organisms to replace them.  Several great extinctions have nearly wiped life off the Earth, but then the precipitating causes evaporate and life flourishes once again, evolving into new and different organisms better fitted to survive in the new world.

We human beings are causing a major die-off of species, and not just through causing climate change.  Perhaps when homo sapiens is gone, which will surely happen one way or another, it will create the opportunity for another bourgeoning of life, replacing what exists now with something as different from mammalian life as mammals are different form dinosaurs.  It could happen, if we don’t screw things up too bad.  I, personally, don’t find that prospect depressing.  We’re just part of a natural cycle that will persist until the Earth is no longer hospitable to life.  Which also is inevitable.

Until the time I perish from this earth, I can enjoy the magic of the cycle of life; watch life change and flow as the seasons go from winter to spring, summer to fall, all the while being part of that cycle and tasting its reality with every breath I share with all that’s around me.

Waldo’s tugging at the leash, his patience at an end.  He’s still a young dog and needs to go.  In about six more years or so, we’ll be approximately the same age – in our eighties.  He’ll slow down then to something that’s more like my speed.  We’ll be able to approach together that inescapable change that comes at the end of our present lives.  Perhaps a rebirth of some kind?

Who can tell until it happens?


Other bushes are also slowly turning green.  Here is multiflora rosa.

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