Consider How the Lilies Grow

A decent day is promised after two days of high winds, rain and cold temperatures. It’s hard to give up an early June weekend to inclement weather — hard on my mind; hard on my body; hard on my creativity. In the face of the cold and rain, though, I slept late Saturday morning, sleeping away some small part of the past five months’ anxiety. For a few extra hours on Saturday, I lived in a dream world where I did not prepare to wake early to drive to Illinois, rise early to care for my mother, focus emotionally for her funeral, travel north to Minnesota for her burial. For the first time in months, I slept Saturday without direction.

Spring arrived in northwestern Minnesota during the final week of my mother’s illness. My travels to-and-from Illinois — began in the subzero cold of January — ended in the soft warmth of early May. The flowering plum trees, red trillium, Canada windflowers, and grape hyacinth followed me north from Illinois to Minnesota in their regional variations. Dissolved were the snowdrifts and frozen ponds. Trumpeter swans and sandhill cranes, red-wing blackbirds and warblers filled the air with calls and songs. Gone were the early morning frosts. Oaks and aspens opened their buds. The sweet scent of spring was everywhere.

It has been almost a month since my mother passed. I slept late on Saturday morning, exhaling finally after months of tension, exhaling after months of letting go. I walk now along the shrubline in northwestern Minnesota. Early mornings take me down gravel roads listening for sandhill cranes in distant fields, flushing up sharptails and mallards resting in ditches. I saw the first fleabane blossoming last evening. Two days ago I photographed the first wild rose. Canada windflowers sway along the road edges; tiger swallowtails dance among the shrubs; swamp laurel blossoms in the bogs. Dames’ rockets and red-osier dogwoods paint the woodlots in splashes of color.

The poet Robinson Jeffers wrote –

Consider if you like how the lilies grow,
Lean on the silent rock until you feel its divinity
Make your veins cold, look at the silent stars, let your eyes
Climb the great ladder out of the pit of yourself and man.
Things are so beautiful, your love will follow your eyes…for
What we love, we grow to it, we share its nature.

A decent day is promised today after two of high winds, rain and cold. I walk along the shrubline in the early morning sun. The harshness of winter has passed. The smells of early-summer swirl around me. I hear the sounds of geese and kingbirds and magpies. Slowly I climb out of my sorrow. The world is so beautiful….

Nodding Trillium

Jeffers, Robinson, “Sign-post.” Selected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers. Ed. Tim Hunt, 504. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001.

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8 thoughts on “Consider How the Lilies Grow

  1. You are handling this difficult event with such grace. I am awed at how you choose to look at life and the beauty you see that many people carelessly walk past. I hope we can find time to go canoeing this summer. Please take care.

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    1. Thank you, Shanice. The spring came so suddenly after a protracted winter. Each day the sun rises on a world I barely recognize. It seems only yesterday I was navigating the snow and ice. The fields green, flowers blossom, fruits form on shrubs and trees. The days sweep me forward, and I try to keep up. I think this is the way of loss and rebirth. Yes! Canoeing this summer! The river awaits. Thank you again.

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  2. This journey of yours will give me strength in the one I am facing. Thank you for sharing your touching private thoughts. I know for me the lake in the past few days had taken the pain and let it fly away on the breeze, peacefully as we hope each of our Mom’s last moments will be.

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  3. Beautiful pictures, literally and in words; thank you. I’m an Illinois native who grew up in Minnesota, though far south and urban, in the Twin Cities. The north woods is infinitely more appealing for we non-city folk.

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    1. Thank you, Cate. I see from your blog site, you’ve relocated to the Rocky Mountains since your Twin Cities days. I visited the Colorado Rockies years ago (38 years?), and still hold pictures of it in my mind. What a wonderful location! Thank you for your kind words. I’m already enjoying your blog and look forward to reading more of your writings!

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