Wishing You The Happiest of Mays!

Hope is holding a creative tension between what is and what could and should be, each day doing something to narrow the distance between the two. —Parker J. Palmer

Take an orange. Well actually, take the color of the orange.
Look at it, really take it in and put its color in this spring landscape of soft greens and pastels. It stands out just as effectively as a red light on a rainy highway!

Now, you might not think this makes the most sense to talk about in May and you may be wondering what this has to do with spring and hope, but stay with me a bit.

Today I stand it my kitchen window and look out, and where I once saw one spot of orange, I all of a sudden see two. Two???

The back story is that two days ago I wondered whether or not Baltimore Orioles were back, and I thought that just perhaps I should get out my Oriole feeder. I got it hung early that evening and wondered how long it would take for the Orioles to find it if they were here. The answer? Less than 24 hours.

The morning after I hung the feeder I looked out my kitchen window and saw two brilliant spots of orange. One, the orange halves on the feeder; the other on a nearby branch, a brilliant male Baltimore Oriole. Smart guy! He had found the feeder right away. He was exactly the color of the orange, and seeing the two side by side caught my breath.

The following day as I looked out to see if I could see the Oriole again, lo and behold there was a new visitor to the suet feeder; a rose-breasted grosbeak. With these two wonderful birds and the brown thrasher that I saw a week ago rooting under my American Hazelnut, I consider myself thrice-blessed. You might think I live on a large lot or near a natural area, but actually I have a small city yard in St. Charles. But I’ve created a large garden filled with native plants and have a number of bird feeders!

Time alone and time reaching out to others in the anxiety of this pandemic has increased the pleasure I feel in the small gifts that life offers. And the coming of spring and the birds that have been gone for the winter buoys my spirit. Where once perhaps I might have been too busy to take time to look up from what I was doing or to stop and take a breath, I feel the warmth of the sunshine and take even deeper pleasure in seeing the avian visitors to my yard. The warming of May days and the evidence of new life all around me restore me and bring me hope.

Granted it is difficult. There are so many continued negative impacts as a result of COVID-19; concern about illness or infectiousness or job loss or finances. Worries about keeping family safe and children happy and involved when many don’t understand why they cannot spend time with friends.

I don’t see how we’ll go back to normal when this is over. I think each of us will be a little more careful or at least I hope so. Each of us will be a little bit more gentle or considerate of each other or at least I hope so. Each of us will take just a little bit more time to appreciate the joys the world can give us be they large or small.

There is a little girl that lives near me, Rose, who is a vibrant, energetic, curious 4 year-old who successfully survived being born with leukemia. Rose has just learned to ride her bike and is quite good already at racing up and down the sidewalk full tilt! She is also quite good at picking dandelions or fallen magnolia petals and keeping them in her basket. Watching Rose gives me pleasure and is another thing that brings hope, making me feel that all is not lost. Seeing her reminds me there is beauty in the small things that she discovers and that give her joy.

The Jacob’s Ladder and Wild Geranium are blooming along with the magnolia and dandelions. And although Bloodroot and Hepatica flowering is passed, the Woodland Phlox is also opening. Take time. Find time – to enjoy the beauties of the natural world. To share in the vision of a healthy, vibrant world that will come. To create a landscape in your yard that fosters life, that supports its diversity, and gives you a little place of connection to the greater whole.

Some of you may be aware that I am relocating to Pittsburgh to be closer to family. That move will happen in June so look for some fun new posts this summer for our Natural Garden Natives®.

Be safe. Be healthy. Be happy. Be well and add more native plants to your gardens!

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