Note: I posted this last year and find Easter weekend to be an appropriate time to revisit even though blooming season is a little later this year. Lithuanians have a deep reverence for the forest that predates Christianity. Even today, that reverence has not diminished. It is an integral part of our Christianity. I’m glad I have retained that ancestral trait.
A year ago I wrote about the little patch of woods behind my house. It was just before Easter and just after the tragic fire at the Cathedral of Notre Dame. As I sat in my gazebo this week, I noticed the Mayapples have risen once again. It was like an invitation to visit my woodland cathedral for Easter services.
First I had to give gratitude for the beauty of my Kwanzan cherry tree outside my front door. They have larger, pinker blooms that peak well after the neighborhood Yoshino cherries. The blooms of the kwanzan are much sturdier than those of the Yoshino. They have stood up well to the winds and thunderstorms of the last few days. Despite the carpet of pink petals on the driveway and lawn, the tree remains gorgeous. Our neighborhood Yoshinos and Kwanzans were especially welcome this year while the cherry blossoms of DC’s tidal basin remained largely off limits.
Now to the cathedral. It’s so very close that I consider my back yard the vestibule, a soothing and soul quenching vestibule now decorated with the seasonal vestments of crabapple and redbud blossoms. It a wonderful place to meditate or read a book, but I most often follow the words of Winnie the Pooh or Satchel Page or some other anonymous philosopher. “Sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits.” I just let the great variety of birds do the speaking.
This is but a small patch of woods with a small stream which eventually winds its way to the Potomac and into the Chesapeake. It will forever be here since it was declared a habitat for a protected variety of fresh water mussel. It has stayed pristine over the twenty-five years I have lived here although it has naturally changed over the seasons and years. In addition to the Mayapples, the Christmas ferns were sending up their new fiddleheads and the delicate Mayflowers were in bloom. One of our fellow correspondents, Swamp Yankee, identified those Mayflowers for me last year. This year I found some Jack in the pulpits. I have a decent patch of them growing in my back yard. These have always intrigued me since they were pointed out to me by my first grade teacher. All these plants of the woodland floor are a testament to the rebirth of Spring and the miracle of Easter. I’m certain that the two are much more related than the Church lets on.
This day I took special notice of some of the larger trees in my little woodland patch. Stafford was pretty much denuded of trees and most everything else during the Civil War. A few cedars always stand out, no matter what the season. There are also some fine oaks. I am especially intrigued by our sycamores. I’ve watch them grow from nothing to towering trees just behind my backyard in twenty-five years. Their light grey bark is striking. Older specimens achieve a more gnarled outline with great character.
As I contemplated these trees, I thought their beauty and magnificence rivaled any cathedral’s arches and stained glass windows. They sing a silent hymn to nature and God. I am blessed to have such beauty mere steps from my back door.