When the branches are bare

Spring is in full bloom here in southwest Florida. I’ve waited a few weeks to say so, in consideration of those who still shovel snow or stare at dirt-encrusted snow piles, instead of deep pink azaleas or an apricot colored Amaryllis.

 

azalea
azalea
amaryllis
amaryllis

Only three weeks ago, the deciduous trees (yes, we do have a few that stand bare for several months) sported nothing more than buds. Now, bright green leaves wave in the breeze. The Easter lilies have sent up fresh stalks and I’m hoping for blooms in two weeks. My Crepe myrtles unfurled new leaves just a day ago, and I’ve put in a few tomato, dill and basil plants.

Sounds like paradise, doesn’t it?

None of us live in Eden.

Here, we don’t have a true fall. (Our seasons are actually rainy season and dry season.) When the days grow longer and the sap starts pushing, like permanent teeth taking their place in the mouth, the oaks shed brown leaves as the new ones push into place. However, before the oaks are painted bright green, thousands of leaves have to be raked and bagged.

Along with the amaryllis comes new growth of a wretched, invasive vine with vicious thorns.

thorny vine
thorny vine

And every bare spot in the yard is filled with ugly weeds that boast hundreds of seeds. (Interesting, they grow best in the poorest soil.) Even if I spray weed killer, they go to seed before they die. Pulling by hand is the only way to get rid of them.

weed
weed

Much as I yearn for beauty, peace, and an uncomplicated life, escape from disease, cruelty and death, as long as I live in this world, it will always be a mixed bag.

What I do with that bag is what makes the difference. Many circumstances I have no control over, but I get to choose my focus.

Will I look at the flower, or the thorn?

The old injury, or the sculpted tree?

© Jack H Thompson
opening in trunk
tree on snowy landscape ©Jack H Thompson
tree on snowy landscape

When nothing else lines up, can I see the morning light in a spider web and take delight in small graces?

spider web in morning dew
spider web in morning dew

When the branches look bare, will I search for the bud or recall last spring, and trust that it will leaf again?

spring leaves
spring leaves

Are there bare branches in your life?

Does it seem like forever since leaves danced over you?

What do you see?

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