It occurs to me that I have come to need nature in a way that I never thought I could. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Towl Park is magical. Not in the sense that it can grant wishes, although that would surely be nice about now. But, magical in that there is something here. Something the opposite of "Something Wicked This Way Comes." It is magical in the way that whenever I come here, if I truly concentrate, I feel peace sear my soul. Sometimes it is a duck. Or a tree. A daffodil. A heron. A friendly dog. A fish. A frog (toad?) Occasionally, I will meet another soul who makes me laugh, think, smile, or even cry.
And it isn't just here at Towl Park. But, because of Towl Park, I have begun to notice things that I guess I always knew were there, but that I never properly noticed before.
The way our chives and rosemary just volunteer to come up every year, albeit, in a kind of inconvenient place. What matters to me is their persistence, their hardiness. They give such a tasty element to our pizzas, salads, grilled hamburgers. The same with the tiny grape tomatoes that pop up around our back fence line every year. I know HOW they get there. Birds are sloppy eaters and a few tomato seeds drop from their beaks every year to produce a new crop the following one. I never noticed these simple treasures as I do now, in my older years. Or as some would say, my declining years.
I've grown to dislike doctors with a passion. It's nothing personal. most of my doctors are nice people. I just hate going to them. This last time was no exception. Something is not right. My white blood cell count is way too low. We're 'watching it" until my six month cancer check up next week. I feel unsettled, sad, and.....something else. Not really scared, but more like....a terrible resignation. I'm not refusing to be hopeful, as my wife accuses. It's more like, I'm acknowledging that something is very wrong. I've felt it for nearly three months now. I'm just waiting for those last few puzzle pieces.
And nature has been the balm that holds me together, keeps me engaged with life and with others.
Today, it was our red quince shrub. It came with the house, has been right here from the start for the last sixteen years. This bush is almost unbearably beautiful and the most I've acknowledged that has been to briefly comment on it's bright red spring foliage. Now, as I look at it, I am filled with such gratitude. Every spring, this bush explodes in scarlet red for about a month. It sings the most beautiful aria of color. Then, right before the warmer winds of summer descend, it sheds its red for green. All summer it stays a shiny green to match the grass. When autumn comes, its leaves turn a bright yellow egg yolk color. An au revoir to the cool, crisp nights. And then it is gone again until spring, when it explodes red all over again.
I take a photo of this shrub today, our red quince already starting to shed it's red. I thank it for just showing up and sharing its beauty with us. I apologize for practically ignoring it for all those years.
I'm not a huge fan of aging, but I will say this: age brings wisdom. Age brings a way to see the forest for the trees. Age brings tenderness. Youth has many advantages over age and it's probably for the best that when we are young we are far too caught up in our own lives and selves to see all of this beauty. Otherwise, we'd all be poets and the world needs pragmatists to spin.
But, for now. To: Towl Park, daffodils, herons, volunteer herbs and tomatoes, and especially red quince shrubbery: I see you. You are magnificent.