Wednesday, May 8, 2013

a Song of the Land

     Spring is suddenly here, this past week. The weather warmed up on Monday and the trees put out their buds and their tiny new leaves. The woods now are misted over with green and the grass is growing thick and tall; even the dandelions are out in abundances.

     How can Spring be so new a miracle each year? How can she surprise us and awe us every time around as no other season does? How can a world so quickly be changed from bleakness and bareness to color and life and song?

     I am thinking lately of how I will be moving to California in August, and how much I shall miss this, miss the sudden and welcome coming of spring, the bitter, cold winters with drifts of snow and sharp icicles, the gay and colorful autumns, the blazing hot summers.

     I am remembering my childhood here, in this land of old trees and rolling prairies, of old white barns, and falling-down fences, of hundred-acre parks and creeks and streams and ponds.

I am thinking of the mystery of a pine forest in summer, and late afternoon sunlight slanting through the branches and how like a cathedral it was, in its sacred stillness, and how as a child I dreamt of its solemn beauty and yet played, irreverently, on its needle-covered floors.

I am remembering early morning on the boulevard amidst the giant ancient oaks and how it was a whole world to me, I was so small. How in the stillness of the morning my child heart knew the hush of quiet within my breast and I was still with the wonder and awe of it. And the remembrance of it fills me with strange joy and lonely sadness.

I am thinking of bitterly cold winter nights, when the darkness is close and fearful and yet for all that the stars shine clear and bright. I remember how I was walking, once, along the icy path, with Orion swinging overhead and I was singing poetry beneath my breath until I saw my own shadow on the snow by the brilliance of the winter moon, and it stole my breath from me and the words from my mouth by its eery beauty.

I am remembering long days of rain and how the trees turn rich colors of black and green and brown in their dripping wetness. I am thinking of how the steam rises from the puddles and creeks and leaves long strands of fog in the woods. I am thinking of the wet, heavy silence of a fog among the trees.


I am thinking of trees all abloom, pink, white, red, green, purple, as if dressing themselves in resurrection joy.

I am remembering how we would rake the bright leaves into piles and then divide them up and build with them houses; how this was a wall and here was the door; how there was a bed there for "night" and a bucket of acorns in the "kitchen" for dinner. I am recalling to my mind images of three small girls busy in the gray autumn, playing among the fallen leaves until noses were red and running and hands were cold and stiff.


I am longing for the stillness of an early morning when I rise before the sun and dress warmly against the damp of darkness and dew, and walk to the prairie path to watch the sun rise over the fields and turn the whole word to shades of gold. I am remembering how the beauty of it hurt me and how my heart wanted to sing, but my lips had no words.

I am remembering lying in the early summer grass to watch the bright white clouds and later discovering tiny violets growing against the house.

And I am thinking of that odd ache in my throat and beneath my collarbone when I am driving at dusk and the trees are bare and silhouetted against the colors of the dying light. I am remembering how when I drive beyond, the turning of their branches before the sky is a loveliness unchallenged, until a bird alights and shatters me with its effortless graces.


And I know that my heart is rooted here, amidst lanes of tall proud trees, in snow forts and leaf-houses, in violets in the grass, in sunrises over the prairie. Somehow these thoughts bring my heart home, of a land of old trees and sweeping prairies, of cornfields green in summer, of rich loam in autumn and spring, of violets hidden by their smallness, of trees silhouetted against stars.

It is hurting me to write this because it is like a premature goodbye; because I am remembering the call of Christ in the fighting time that I was called not here, but beyond, somewhere not-home the way this prairie and forest land is home.

I remember once as a child I found the moulted plumage of a red-winged blackbird. It was a burst of feathers from the shoulder of the wing--all one piece, with the brilliant red patch and the white and yellow stripe and the shining black. And I am telling myself that I don't have to moult like that,  leave part of myself behind me, but that I can carry it somehow with me, this land of pioneers and farmers. I bring with me the trees and the snow, the rain and the fog, the sunrises and the prairies, the stars and the sunsets.

And I am knowing now that this is not a saying goodbye but a growing up, and that I am never too old for beauty, and the beauty of the earth shall scarcely fade away. But I shall miss the peculiar beauty of my home-state.

And I am praying that I may live this one live season as purely as I can, in the present.

I am praying that I would be seeing, and singing, and whispering poetry under my breath always, that I might carry the beauty with me, hidden in my heart.

I am praying that I would always be adding to it, that I may treasure these things up in my heart, that I may grow in wisdom and stature with God and man.

That I would keep company always with those who say "Look!" and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.

That I might learn that man does not live by Joy alone but by the power of the presence of God.


  1. Beautiful - both photos and words!

  2. This is so powerful, it made me cry!

  3. Do you have any idea how awesome you are?



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