Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Clouds of Snow, Clouds of Petals

Decades ago, I walked with friends along the beach at Sullivan's Island.  One of those friends gestured towards a row of beach cottages and said, "That's the inspiration for a thousand bad water color paintings."  He wasn't wrong.  

But of course, it's also the inspiration for the kind of paintings that people want to hang on their walls, for better or worse.  It's the view so many of us wish we had as we stare out at our surly suburbs.  It's no wonder that so many painters try their hand at capturing it.

As I drove back to my seminary apartment yesterday, I looked out over mountain vistas and had similar thoughts about poetry.  I thought, I'm viewing the inspiration for thousands of bad poems.  But it does seem worth capturing in some format.  So let me write a quick blog post before turning back to seminary writing.

I worried a bit about the weather.  I knew that a system was forming off the coastline of both Carolinas, and I worried that it might form and move more quickly than anticipated.  I knew that it had been raining on Sunday, and the overnight temperatures were right at freezing.  So I left a bit later than my usual hours before sunrise departure time.  If there was any frozen stuff on the highways, the big trucks could deal with it better than I could.

As I got to the higher mountain passes (3700 feet above sea level), I looked out and wasn't sure whether I was seeing snow or the trees that had blossomed into white puffs over the last two weeks or clouds hanging low.  Maybe it was fog?  And then snow started falling along with the rain.

It didn't last long.  I suppose it's more accurate to say that I drove out of it quickly.  But I continued to watch the clouds my whole way back to DC.  Was I seeing the swirls from the system forming off the coast?  Leftover clouds from the week-end storm?  Normal cloud cover?

Every so often, the clouds cleared, and I saw the brilliant blue sky.  Off to the distance, snow had fallen on mountain tops.  Closer, the land had that green fizz look of the first growth of spring.  I saw bunches of jonquils off in forest land, which made me wonder who planted those bulbs.

I got back to campus and looked around in amazement.  Just over a week ago, the trees were bare and budless.  Now every tree has buds, and one has burst into bloom.  I took a short walk through the expensive neighborhood next to my seminary to see the trees.

I hope the flowers survive the winds we're expecting today and tomorrow as the storm system roars north.  While I don't love spring flowers in the same way I love autumnal leaves, I don't want them to be swept away early.

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