Every Now and Then



I’ve frumped and fumbled my way through more days than I care to admit. Despite what has currently become my standard operating procedure, every now and then something catches my attention and brings me up short. Or better yet, brings me back to my senses. Take, for example, my walk the other day. Just getting out the door is a significant step in a positive attitude adjustment. Away from the computer, out of myself and into the fresh air. Up the road, a left onto the scenic loop, up the hill and to the left at the mail boxes, up some more hill (there’s no way to avoid them around here, and they really are getting easier). As I neared the turnaround point, something in a nearby evergreen caught my attention. I stopped and stepped closer to explore what I thought I’d seen, and was stunned to realize it was what it appeared – even though I had no idea what it actually was. A ball in a tree, sitting on a branch; purple, or maybe deep rose. It reminded me of some intricate kind of origami creation with countless points; yet not paper at all. Part of the tree, actually one of many, ranging in size between golf and tennis balls. One more vivid reminder that I’m not from around here, and that there’s a world of nature begging to be noticed and explored.

I rushed back to grab my camera even as I observed countless other trees sporting the same adornment along the road. Trees I had walked by without so much as a glance on my way out. Initial conversation with my locally grown partner reviewed our recent Tree Species 101 lesson and confirmed that this is indeed a pine. The ever available internet finally led to the answer that I was looking at a Ponderosa Pine and its pollen producing male cone. Since my initial moment of discovery, I’ve seen countless cones in various stages of development and color. Green, purple, tan, bark brown. They grow, open, begin to look more and more like a collection of individual cones while the season’s new growth emerges from the center. And yes, they explode, propelling clouds of pollen into the air. Very good news if you’re invested in the continuation of the species; not so exciting if you live with allergies and pollen sensitivities.

It is painfully, exquisitely clear to me that I’m not from around here. Many days, I look longingly eastward and toward the familiar pieces of home. Other days, I savor the discoveries and encounters of this new land, just waiting to be observed and engaged. It is possible to sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land if I’ll but look up and around, venture out and open myself to the world, people, behaviors and possibilities that await me.

17 May 2013

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