The time machines all around you

spring2The world, our world, is filled with magic when we are willing to use a broad brush to define enchantment. And why not? We touch upon telepathy and magic charms, natural shape shifters and mysterious potions, if you open your eyes wide enough in the aquarium or the pharmacy to see the correlations.

But what about that old science fiction standby of time travel? Surely there is no substitute for the cranky old machine in the professor’s garage that will take us to see dinosaurs or aliens inhabiting our world? Maybe, maybe not.

Is a trip to Cuba in 2016 a journey back in time? Is visiting a research lab at a tech firm a jaunt into the future? How about finding a box in the attic? Looking into a newborn’s eyes? Ah yes, time machines all around.

spring3Last week, I discovered a new one, driving from North Carolina to Tennessee. I’m spending my first spring in North Carolina at about 3000 feet above sea level, and have admired the many flowering trees as they burst into bloom. I already know that the full foliage of summer makes for my least favorite season in my new home, and I’ve watched with a little sadness as summer begins at my house.

Then I discovered, to my delight, that at 6000 feet up the little tiny leaves are just beginning to curl outward and the floral fireworks display is only starting. That’s right. It is a full three week trip back in time just driving up over the state line.

But you’re not really going back in time, you say. True. The calendar has not changed. However it looks every bit as if I had, and, in at least some branches of physics, reality is what the observer sees, not what the instrumentation of another says.

GreenlandLater, as we drove back down to lower elevations, I remembered a book I read while researching d4. In Gretel Ehrlich’s This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland she suffers from a heart condition that prohibits her from living in the high mountain terrain that she loves. Then she discovers that moving northward in latitude is the equivalent of climbing higher in altitude, without the oxygen issues. No, she’s not really higher above sea level in Greenland, but the plants and animals and lichens all make it look like she is, and she’s happy.

Sunday, I was back in the full flowering glory of spring, and I was happy too. Who is to say that’s not time travel.  Certainly not me.

 

 

Spurning spring?

pat polacco 1I have it in my head that this time of the year is about small children, and baby lambs and tiny chicks and new shoots coming out of the ground. It’s about being young, very young, and those of us past that phase of our lives are just supposed to look on in wonder. It’s all about cute, and honestly its never been my favorite time of the year.

At some point many years ago I decided that I was in the summer of my life. Natural enough. Life was full and I was as physically fit and attractive as I was ever going to be. Those are summer kinds of things to me. However, I’ve lived in the south most of my life and, well, summer has never been my favorite time of the year either. I always was one of those odd kids who liked it when school started, and dark came earlier so I could come inside to read a book. I didn’t seem to belong in summer, even when I was there.

Recently, I’ve realized that it is past time to acknowledge that I’ve moved on through August and September. There is a cool breeze blowing through my soul these days, and it carries the scent of earth and leaves and fires and I feel like I’m finally where I belong. Autumn, my favorite season. I’m strong here. It is where I am at home.

springSo I was a little surprised to find myself sitting on my front porch this week-end, mesmerized by all the spring beauty around me. The azaleas are blooming here in Texas right now along with the wild flowers of April. The leaves are all a shade of bright lime green that dazzles. Youth. Okay, it definitely has it’s charm, I thought. Then I took a closer look at the source of the shimmering green in front of me.

I was in fact staring at an old tree in our yard. That tree was surely past the summer of its life, just like me. Yet there it was, covered in shiny green shoots that spoke of newness and beginnings. I swear, its half-uncurled little leaves were even cute.

Isn’t nature clever? New beginnings aren’t just for the young. They are for new parents and new grandparents and those starting projects and changing jobs and moving and retiring. New beginnings are part of living, no matter where you fall in that old cycle of life thing. I knew that of course, deep down where I know all kinds of things that I often forget. Today, I am thankful for an old tree in my yard for taking the time to remind me about the new growth in all of us.