Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Signs of life
April 11, 2018
The saying goes, "It's not spring until it snows on the Dogwoods." There is a possibility of snow in the forecast, but I do not see the flowers quite yet.
Regardless, the miraculous change of season is making itself known. All around me, I see signs of life.
Trees that were just recently covered with snow, now are full of blossoms. I am watching the green buds appear on the Dogwood tree in the front yard, anticipating the white flowers that bring a smile to my face each morning when I look out my window as I prepare for the day ahead.
Until recently, three dogwoods had been growing successfully in the front yard. We didn't plant them. They were "volunteers." They innocently stumbled into the yard of a woman with a black thumb.
A tale of trees
We had been given a Dogwood tree as a wedding gift when we first moved into this house, but it did not survive when I planted it. Too much sun? Not enough water? Too much water? Not enough sun? It is a great mystery to me.
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So, I was thrilled to look out one year and realize a trio of saplings had flowered and they were Dogwoods. I just enjoyed them and let them grow — not necessarily a location I would have selected — they sprung up and decorated the edge of the driveway.
Then, a couple of years ago, only one showed signs of life. Just as unexpectedly as they appeared, they stopped flowering. It is possible they realized it was my house and surrendered.
In truth, one had been hit by a falling tree the previous fall and may have suffered more than we thought. The other may have drowned during the winter.
Whatever the cause, they were clearly dead, but I couldn't bring myself to have them removed. I asked my husband to give them one more spring just to see if there was some chance they would make a come-back, maybe there was life in them we just could not see. No harm in that.
But, during one of the recent storms, one of them simply fell over. I had to admit defeat. It will make nice kindling once it dries out.
After dragging it to the side of the driveway and out of the way, I gave the other a tug to see how it was doing and in doing so, pulled it from the ground. I could say I have remarkable strength, but in reality it was not deeply rooted and once dead, came away from the soil quite easily.
I dragged it to the side of the drive as well. Now, one Dogwood stands alone, full of green sprouts, likely to produce beautiful flowers in the next few weeks. I am grateful. It seems to be doing well and in fact, has more buds than ever.
Where two were not able to survive, another thrives. The same basic conditions: same amount of sun, water and soil.
I wonder why.
It made me think about the way humans react so differently to the same set of circumstances. What is it that makes one person stand up and fight while another simply surrenders?
Everyone wants to feel love
We all face challenges. I don't think anyone is exempt. But we also all have a choice in how we respond to those challenges.
Be it health issues, financial problems, death of a loved one, loss of a job, a troubled relationship, whatever the difficulty, we all have a choice to make in how we respond to it.
People will say you can't really know how you will react until you are in the situation and I will not argue that. One might rise to the trials, take up a cause or simply choose joy while another will not easily find a way to cope and will spend days, even years in despair.
Is it simply a matter of choice? I am not so sure.
This human experience and thing called life is sometimes hard to understand. I see so many people who are suffering and on the flip side, so many offering not only compassion, but tangible assistance. Many of us spend our lives trying to make our part of the world a better place and helping those who are unable to, help themselves.
Regardless of our circumstance, I believe we all seek love. We strive for security.
Oprah Winfrey famously said, in part, during the final segment of her daily talk show, "If I could reach through this television and sit on your sofa or sit on a stool in your kitchen right now, I would tell you that every single person you will ever meet shares that common desire. They want to know: 'Do you see me? Do you hear me? Does what I say mean anything to you?"
I believe that, and I believe simply letting people know they are seen and heard and mean something to someone can be the equivalent of just the right amount of sun and water and soil to grow deep roots that will allow them to blossom.
As we move through the season of spring and new beginnings, may we all know we are loved, we are heard, and we mean something to one another.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.