Updated: Apr 9, 2021
Our backyard exploded last week with small, friendly, blue clusters of chionodoxa. They’d leapt out of the beds we'd made for them so many years ago to dance happily on the lawn. Nature finds a way. Nature has come out to play. And as I bend to pick a few for a dinner arrangement I notice, as I never have before, the glorious differences from cluster to cluster. Some are taller than most; some have longer, slimmer petals; some seem higher chroma violet or have whiter centers.
Walking in the woods this time of year is always a lovely game of hide and seek. If you keep your eyes alert, you’re likely to spot Bloodroot, Dutchman’s Breeches or my mother’s favorite harbinger of spring: Skunk Cabbage. This year, the surprises seem to be hiding along every path.
All around town I’m noticing things I hadn’t before, like the way the horizon along the river is being lit up with red maple buds and the occasional electric-yellow-green of a weeping willow. In the before times, my hometown, while a comfort, still seemed a bit dull. I thought I needed to visit distant, extravagant places to find the wow. Now it’s as though my eyes have adjusted to the Covid dark, and I can see what was once invisible. Or perhaps it is simply another gift of entering the third third of life. As a child, there was joy in waking up to each new day of discovery, but over time, I’m afraid I began to take today and tomorrow for granted. But now again, I find joy in waking up and finding another day: a gift to unwrap and enjoy.
I also realize, more than ever, that I am able to enjoy these gifts because of earlier generations that looked ahead and chose to save open lands and scenic vistas for those who would walk upon them and delight in them in future seasons. The Hill-Stead Museum, Fisher Meadows, Winding Trails, the Reservoir, Tunxis Mead, the Canal Aqueduct Trail: These places are as familiar to me as my own backyard after decades of walking there with family and friends. They are gifts from people I don’t even know who chose to contribute to the greater community good rather than use them only for economic gain.
I am grateful to the men and women who had the foresight to help ensure these gifts would remain and to those who continue to care for these spots so that I, along with future generations, can enjoy them. In particular, I am grateful for the Farmington Land Trust, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month (and I'm celebrating, too, with an auction for their benefit). I wonder if my dad had any clue when he started it 50 years ago what a gift it would be to those of us who are able to enjoy these lands today.
Like the lovely chionodoxa, these quiet, local, unassuming gifts make me happy to call this place my home.
Spring at Hill-Stead, 14"x18", oil on canvas, purchase