Amid the Forsythias ———————————————— 4th May 2015
I’ve been traveling for many years and yet this was my first Spring. I usually choose either earlier or later months in the year to vacation, but that might have to be reconsidered after what turned out to be an experience of spiritual renewal which I never anticipated.
Spring sprung late this year … as defined by snow still present in early May; especially at some of the higher elevations (I even had a brilliant idea to photo-record this apparent slow melt process for future reference and jumped in a knee-deep pile … can you feel the wet socks? Such fun …!)
This trip wasn’t planned in any detail (if at all) … it was an opportunity that presented itself in the form of a paid-for, lonely, log cabin resort and I said what the heck…might as well make the most of it.
My whirlwind trip started in Tennessee in said amazing resort, with several treks to The Great Smoky Mountains – one that I ventured on by myself and two others that I did with a guided group – all filled with breathtaking vistas and that feeling of rebirth and awakening in the air. I was absolutely awestruck by the Smokies, but a few days later I ventured a few states away and managed to fall in love with The White Mountains of New Hampshire.
I drove and hiked in The Smokies to its highest elevations (over 6600 feet) and I must report that the ever changing flora, the random sightings of black bears in the wild (even next to my own cabin), the history and preserved remnants of the early settlers and the sheer beauty and magnitude of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was a lot to inhale … and the only word that I can honestly come up with to describe it all is “awesome” … and breathtakingly so…
The White Mountains – a whole other scenery – the mountains themselves were vastly varied; from snow capped peaks that reflected the sun in beautiful and blinding proportions to others covered with naked trees still recovering from this year’s bitter winter, onto those of green mountains dotted with blossoms of white and purple and then to huge bare-faced rock walls flanking some areas like armoured Roman bodyguards.
The route itself was also more spectacular in its own way – while The Smokies had changing tree types and magnificent ridges, The White Mountains were lined with stony rivers, cascading waterfalls and the scenic changing of green and coloured roads to snow lined ones as I undertook each ascent and descent.
In between Tennessee and New Hampshire though lay a transition and the best part of my trip … my discovery of Forsythias in Rhode Island and in reflection, what Spring has come to mean to me. I saw these flowering shrubs as soon as I landed in that airport and then to my amazement realized they were planted in almost every home … all over the state in their magnificent golden yellow glory adding laughter to a landscape that was also recovering from a record breaking New England winter gone by … It spoke to me on a deeper level, a previously unadorned tree waking up to the changing weather, blossoming in the most splendiferous way, signaling the other trees to wake up and perhaps burst into own their glory (most of them seem to still be in disbelief that the cold was actually gone) with these yellow sunshiny “can’t-help-but-look-at-me” happy blooms urging them on …
If springtime is about renewal and rebirth and all things anew; if it’s about discovery and overcoming struggle to shine brilliantly among ice wrecked stark bareness and if it’s about the annual rejuvenation of nature’s hibernating soul … then that is what the Forsythia now means to me … the embellishment of a previously austere landscape and its resurgence to joyous beginnings …
Whether it was on the chilly mountain top of Clingman’s Cove in Smoky Tennessee, the picturesque town of North Conway nestled in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, or the simple truth of a four-lobed golden flower in Rhode Island, my take away from this Spring vacation has amounted to a quote by Rumi: “If your eyes are opened, you will see the things worth seeing…”