I got an email this morning from an old friend in Vermont who sent me a poem about cherry trees, and the importance of appreciating them all year round, not just when they're in bloom.
Our cherry trees, of course, are pretty much done blooming; the driving rains of the last two days have taken off the last of the petals. But in Vermont they're just beginning. Even though there's already been a week where the temperatures reached 85 degrees, spring does tend to come more slowly there.
And I confess this morning I'm feeling a bit nostalgic for those bygone days, when we lived in Vermont, surrounding by fields, fences and friends. The pace -- though we were younger then, and upwardly mobile, obsessed with our jobs and only beginning our lives as parents -- was a little easier, I think, but perhaps it was just there were fewer demands on us; fewer responsibilities, fewer challenges. Or maybe it was just that the scenes we passed on the way to work each day -- like this one, along Route 5 in Thetford, taken years after we had moved away -- were more soothing, more meditative.
In fact, they were more like the landscapes John O'Donohue describes in Anam Cara: rolling hills and fields, rock formations... less manmade stuff, more God-made stuff. And there, in Vermont, the weather changes are more significant, more visible; the seasons more extreme... with all the gifts and challenges that implies. We were, as a result, closer to nature, more aware of our vulnerabilities, more attuned to the role chance can play in a life.
And thinking of the differences between who we were then and there, and who we are here and now, I wonder if coping with climate takes its toll, and if the reason there was a British empire had something to do with their relatively easy climate -- which is so like ours -- if they somehow felt more invincible, more in control, and it was that confidence that made them so powerful.
Which reminds me of a theory I've always had about men and women. Women, so obviously at the mercy of their bodies and hormones, seem always to be more aware of their vulnerability than men, and therefore somewhat less confident that the world will always go their way. Men live, it seems to me, in an emotional and hormonal climate more similar to Britain and the Pacific Northwest; I've always wondered if that's what makes them less likely to worry, to question, or even to understand the importance of the inter-reliance community can offer; more inclined to strive and conquer.
Funny -- all these thoughts, and just because of a poem about a cherry tree. Isn't poetry wonderful?