Lovely Tease


  • Arrives the summer!  Temperatures in the seventies, bright warm sun, flowerbeds overflowing, ferns uncurling, everyone outside rejoicing that winter has gone for good.  Truly it has _ but.   Well, it’s still mid-April, as those paying taxes know well.  Although this weather may hold for a while, it will bounce considerably, and chill rain, wind, and gloom could easily descend for a week or so at any time.  Any given day might have quite a bite to it, and nights can be downright cold. 
  • Home from a weekend wedding excursion to Maryland, we realize just how much we love our area of Huntington.  Perhaps other places can be just as sweet, but I think seniors _ me anyway _ always wear ruby slippers and wish to return whenever they are away very long, no matter the marvels encountered.  Of course, we are so adaptable that we can redefine “home” wherever we may settle later.  On this bright sunny morning, no place else could ever compare to my own back yard.  


So much to know, so much to see,
So much to do, so much to be.
No time to waste, gone in a blink,
No time to rest, reflect, nor think.
Like April showers nothing lasts
Like springtime flowers fading fast.
I’m finished chores, without a care,

I contemplate all from my chair.


  • Adaptability of temperate zone vegetation (and fauna) is amazing.  People may become upset or depressed about variations in the weather _ freeze, wind, rain, heat, sun, drought _ but they can always go inside to comfort and have a glass of water.  Trees and flowers and insects and birds have no such option.  Yet they survive and thrive.  At this time of year everything moves at a frantic pace: new leaves opening at nearly blinding speed, birds frantically flitting to find mates and build nests. 
  • Life on this planet is stunning.  Like everyone else, I take it for granted.  I read about life millions of years ago, and what may happen in the future, and what may exist in the far reaches of space, all interesting intellectual fantasies.  But I force myself also to try to understand exactly how miraculous and infinite the web of Earth _ Gaia _ is on this exact moment in this exact spot.  I can sometimes imagine a meaning or force in our universe that concerns itself with human affairs.  I remain incapable of imagining such encompassing every insect, leaf, bird, and blossom in our whole vast and miraculous world.


We bask in warm sun high at Coindre Hall, gazing over the blue harbor, smiling at the noisy antics of two huge hovering bumblebees.  Higher temperatures have hatched all kinds of flying insects.  We futilely wave through a mini-swarm of gnats that unerringly hover directly in front of our eyes.
“Mayflies,” snaps Ed suddenly.
“What?” I slowly come out of my reverie.
“Here today, one day, gone tomorrow.  All life’s like that, too short, too lost, too forgotten.”
“My, aren’t you the cheerful one.  Well, I guarantee you there are no mayflies.  One _ it isn’t May yet.  Two _ they only live in running fresh water, of which we have none.  And three _ if there were any they wouldn’t be up here on top of the hill since they only skim a little ways above the surface until a trout leaps and gobbles them.”
“That’s the idea,” he responds sullenly.  “Compared to the time and majesty of the universe we are worse and more useless and shorter-lived than mayflies.”
“Well, compared to the time and majesty of the universe the sun itself is only around for a little while, and surely doesn’t count for much in the grand scheme of the galaxies.  Big deal.”
“So depressing …”
“Nope,” I chirp.  “We share one thing with mayflies that makes it all worthwhile.”
“You’re kidding.”
“We keep on going.  We want to fulfil our life span.  Survival, with all that implies.  Continuation to a new generation.  We have no choice, as long as we’re alive.  It’s what this,” I spread my arms, “is all about, if it is about anything.”
“I still think it’s basically mayflies.”
“Maybe mayflies are happy, in their own way,” I argue.
“Jeez, go away and let me be grouchy,” Ed growls.

“Well, of course,” I head on down the hill to the shoreline.  “That’s part of it too, you know.”  I didn’t wait for his reaction, the day was too beautiful.  Sometimes it’s better not to think too much.


  • Ferns uncoiling from beds of leaves are almost alien forms.  So unlike the buds and blossoms and leaves of everything else except fungi, they astound with an alternate vision of renewal.  Fossils reveal an ancient lineage, ferns were here long before any flowering plants, covered lands before animals emerged from the sea.  Even now, they need no help for pollination or dispersal of spores, using only wind.  Easily ignored, yet beautiful in garden and woods everywhere.
  • My mind leaps into metaphors and similes perhaps too easily.  I can imagine my accomplishments as blossoms, my daily struggles like a tree in storm,  my aging like seasons through a year.  Trying to do so with fiddleheads unfurling is difficult.  They stand apart, comparisons escape me.  I am once again grateful that I can be so confused, amazed, and surprised.


  • All around this April, nature is “doing something.”  Each plant, each animal, even the molecules frantically circulating in all living beings is “doing something.”  I’m so tired of hearing that our political leaders should be business people who know how to “do something. “ What we really need is an ecologist or gardener, who understands complexity and contradiction and balance.
  • Business works by focusing on one narrow goal, with maybe a couple of side glances.  Make money.  Eliminate competition.  Throw out what is in your way.  It’s a bulldozer razing a rain forest, and well fitted for those with incomplete views of the universe.  It’s an artificial game, that has no relevance to season, nature, or human society.
  • People are part of an organic whole, just like my yard and our entire world.  Multiple goals, various strategies, conflict, tension and coexistence are more important than winning.  Adjustments and adaptations must be made.  Some complexity is never resolved, simply suspended in contradictory coexistence.  Principles based on that should guide society, which is a mirror of our natural heritage.  A business leader is befuddled in that situation, because desired outcomes lack a clear purpose or way of determining if the company is “winning.” 
  • The absolute worst leader a society can have is someone who wants to “win.”  That requires picking out one or two clear goals which will supersede any other consideration.  Such a situation resembles introducing an invasive plant like kudzu into a fragile ecology, and is just as disastrous in the long run for the culture which it overruns, impoverishes, and destroys. 
  • The lessons of nature are unfortunately lost in this election season, as candidates spend their time eating in delis and spouting canned speeches to crowds and cameras.  I wish that just once a week they’d be forced to spend a day in forest or field, observing silently the ways of a red winged blackbird or contemplating how the wealth of the world came into being, and how all humans need it still.  They might even notice that “doing things” can happen in different ways than they think.
  • My utopian dream of the week.  Now true April returns, leaving the eighty degree temperatures we have been experiencing as a fond memory while we return to more seasonable weather.  But this lovely teasing spell has served its purpose, and all the world unfolds once more, heedless of political parties and angry multitudes.


  • Perfect timing on weather this year has led to spectacular results.  Shots of very warm air have forced open some late bloomers like tulips and crabapples, while cool nights and a return to less extreme days preserved the rest.  So this area is covered in brilliant beds of tulips, carpets of dandelions,  ragged drifts of lingering forsythia, clouds of cherry blossoms,  brilliant accents of pink crabapples, and, of course, all the varied fresh colors of new foliage.  Only the magnolias seem to have left the parade.
  • Even people, now having had a taste of very warm and humid days, are relieved that we’re back to the usual sixties.  As long as there are no more drops below fifty, all will be perfect.  But _ that will change.  I find these patterns resemble my life track _ sudden change followed by a lingering plateau _ for better or worse.  This particular springtime plateau is one of the best seasons we have had since _ well, the last one.