Tomorrow is the first day of spring, which – I know – doesn’t mean as much to us Texans as it does to those residents in places covered with snow nearly a quarter of the year. Seeing as how our “spring” often starts a few days before Groundhog Day and by the time the actual Equinox comes into play, it is beginning to seem like summer, we may not appreciate the season marked on the calendar with complete reverence.
Saturday morning, walking Todd, my pointy-eared dog, I noticed the young oak tree along our path is starting to put out leaves. I pointed out my happy discovery to Todd, and realized for about the millionth time, you never want to stand too close to a tree with a male dog and expect him to marvel at the same beauty you do.
Nothing like a dog hiking his leg and allowing nature to take its course to destroy the moment.
We pass by that little oak tree three or four times each day – six or eight if you count return trips. Sometimes we cut a wider berth to save Todd from his instinct and temptation, but sometimes we’re just there, and whatever happens, happens.
I moved into the then not quite 2-year-old apartment complex where I live a little more than four years ago. The little oak tree was a tiny sapling then and I think I could have circled the trunk with my thumb and forefinger.
I liked to compare myself to the little tree. Well not the skinny part. That would have been too much of an imagination stretch. And OK, I “googled” this because it’s been too long since my high school biology class, but I learned, oaks, like most trees, are “monoecious,” which means they are both male and female. I don’t care. I choose to consider this tree female.
See – and I know the logic is not easy to follow, especially if you’re still scratching your head over my random gender assignment – but my move to San Angelo and the complex was the start of a huge “season change” in my life. I felt an affinity with the little tree, all frail-looking, but standing there in the seasons’ elements – rain, wind, sleet, snow, heat and storm. I appreciated her not giving up, but also not appearing to fight. Living in the come what may. Taking the good, accepting the bad and getting on with it.
It’s been my self-chosen encouragement to notice her schedule. When the trees’ branches along the river a block from my apartment complex are completely bare, my little tree is hanging onto her ’doo of brown, crackly leaves. And when the leaves of the threes along the river have started to burst forth in pale, pretty fringes of green, she’s waiting a little longer, keeping those leaf buds tight. Then one day it happens. Leaves start to appear, and closer examination shows stringy fronds that by late October will have turned into acorns.
The tree’s grown considerably. Her lowest branch is just above my head now, but, if I remember correctly it was only shoulder level four years ago. It takes both hands, forefinger to forefinger, thumb to thumb, to reach around her trunk. For a couple of years, scissortails had a nest in the top branches, and two springs in a row we had the added blessing of hearing the peeps of baby birds.
But the second spring, my neighbor reported she’d seen a cat scale the trunk … And that was that. There’s been no nest since.
After our walk Saturday morning, I came back and fixed myself a cup of tea with honey. I told Todd my spring break I’d looked forward to with such anticipation hadn’t been nearly as productive as it should have been.
“Monday’s going to come,” I said, “and ‘Bam, it’s back to reality.’”
I thought about all these things until I finished my tea, and I’ve come up with a plan. I’ve decided to have a real season change in my heart.
I’m tired of worrying about things I cannot change – tweets, twitters, budgets and walls. I’m through fighting, I’m going to accept the fact my anger and angst isn’t the solution and it’s hurting me more than fixing things.
I’m going to count my blessings with greater appreciation and weather my trials with fewer complaints. Seek peace. Be thankful. Seasons come and go. Life changes, but goodness and grace are a constant, if we choose.
Editor’s note: Candace Cooksey Fulton, formerly of Brownwood, is a freelance writer now living in San Angelo. She writes weekly columns for the Brownwood Bulletin and the San Angelo Standard-Times, each unique to the particular paper. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.