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A visit with the dogwoods

Yesterday’s sunrise.  If you had been standing outside with me at the time, you would have heard all manner of birds conversing and singing including a wild turkey who was hanging out in that liminal space between marsh and woods, gobbling.

Gratitude is most powerful as a response to the Earth because it provides an opening to reciprocity, to the act of giving back, to living in a way that the Earth will be grateful for us.

~ Robin Wall Kimmerer

There’s a song that wants to sing itself through us. We just got to be available. Maybe the song that is to be sung through us is the most beautiful requiem for an irreplaceable planet or maybe it’s a song of joyous rebirth as we create a new culture that doesn’t destroy its world. But in any case, there’s absolutely no excuse for our making our passionate love for our world dependent on what we think of its degree of health, whether we think it’s going to go on forever. Those are just thoughts anyway. But this moment you’re alive, so you can just dial up the magic of that at any time.

~ Joanna Macy

Morning, singing.

In an early celebration or honoring of Earth Day, I went out to the swamp and the woods yesterday.  Specifically, I walked the Trail of Change at Pocomoke River State Park.  If you’ve been around here for a while, the trail and park probably sound familiar.  At least one of my contributions to Walktober was a walk on the Trail of Change.  A quick search of my blog shows that I’ve written about the Trail of Change numerous times so I’ll keep this short by reminding you that on the relatively short trail, you travel through old growth forest and into the cypress swamp.  It loops around and is just short of a mile in length.  At one of the entrances to the trail (near the parking lot), the area is lined with dogwood trees.


I thought about Walktober while I was out there, thinking that I really should come up with a springtime equivalent.  I enjoy our group walks.  Even though we do them as individuals, somehow they come together as if we did go out with each other, sharing what we see along the way.  Spring, of course, has its own qualities, its own things to share, and would be a wonderful time for us to unite our individual visions of the season in a group walk.  Anyone want to volunteer to host a spring version of Walktober?  We could call it May Meanders or some such thing.


I went out to the state park primarily to see the dogwoods.  My own young and rather small dogwood is blooming, and my hope was that I hadn’t already missed the dogwoods blooming in the park.  Most years I arrive too early or too late.  This time, I made it.  The dogwoods are in full bloom.  In addition to their gracefulness and beauty, I marvel at the way the dogwoods reach out their branches, appearing open and ready to embrace life.  My own little dogwood looks rather inhibited by comparison.  Perhaps as it grows it will learn to stretch and open itself up to the world.

Reaching ever outward.

Accompanying the thoughts of Walktober were some of Rumi’s poetry, lines floating through my head while I was walking and looking and listening (the birds in the woods had a lot to say and sing).  Turning through my mind and heart lately have been the last two lines of this poem:

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

— Rumi

I do love this translation, even though I am told it is inaccurate.  Finding an accurate version is difficult to do because the algorithm seems to want to pick up all the Western versions.  Rumi has often been described as one of the most popular poets in the U.S.  I think we forget (mostly because it has been, to some degree, erased) that Rumi was Muslim who studied the Koran and followed the prescribed rules of prayer throughout his life.  One of the corrected translations of this poem is:

There are a hundred kinds of prayer,
bowing, and prostration For the one whose prayer-niche is the
beauty of the Beloved.

(If you’re interested, The New Yorker has an interesting article about Rumi: The Erasure of Islam from the Poetry of Rumi.)

Grace and beauty.

With the “hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground,” I also thought of Thich Nhat Hanh who instructed us to “Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”  The season of spring does that to me.  Watching the resurrection — the movement from the death and depths of winter to the rising aliveness of spring — brings about a reverence for Earth, for life, and for Life.  Each season has its own theme (now I’m delving into Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8:  “For everything there is a season, A time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.”).  There are so many wise words and ways of seeing and talking about the seasons and life.  It’s too bad we label them and decide one is better than the other (or one is Truth and the other not-Truth, or the words become corrupted to suit an agenda of hate and/or bigotry).

Turn, turn, turn.

It was a beautiful day to be out in the woods and to walk through the greening swamp.  There are not many spring flowers blooming just yet.  I’d like to get out there again soon.  It’s warming up and I think that will bring out the spring ephemerals that are still in hiding.

Kneel and then look up.

Well, there are hundreds of ways to photograph the spring and I can’t bring them to you all at once.  I’ll be back soon with more from my spring walk.  Thank you so much for visiting with me today.  Let’s meet out at the Point for sunset.  It’s scheduled for 7:46 PM.  There are just enough high, thin clouds to hint at the possibility of a spectacular sunset.  You might need a light jacket.  It’s been warm (in the 70’s) today, but there is still a chill coming off the water.

Please be safe, be well, and get out and enjoy whatever season and weather you’re in.

One of many.

A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy:  1,991)  Dogwood trees and flowering bracts.  1,992)  The beauty and grace of nature, in every season.  1,993)  M, always and forever.  Amen.  1,994)  Shell Pink, the April color for Monopalette.  I was surprised to find out how much I like the color.  I do like pink, but usually something more vibrant.  1,995)  Fresh spring vegetables from the garden and from the farmers market.

A Great Blue Heron flying by at sunset (yesterday).


Robin is... too many things to list, but here is a start: an artist and writer; a photographer and saunterer; a daughter and sister and granddaughter; a friend, a partner, a wife, a mother, and a grandmother; a gardener, a great and imaginative cook, and the creator of wonderful sandwiches.

11 thoughts on “A visit with the dogwoods

  1. Dogwoods are a beautiful and graceful tree. Unfortunately, they are not as common here as where you are, as we’re at the north end of their range. I once visited SC in April and was stunned by their abundance and beauty.
    Happy Earth Day, Robin. It was a beautiful day here and I spent the day kissing the earth in a hundred ways. 😉


  2. Oh, those dogwoods! Utterly beautiful and not common in Maine. A May Meander sounds great, but between finishing book 4 and getting my gardens in order, my schedule is full to the brim


  3. It is always a pleasure to view your photography and what’s not to love about a sunrise unless of course you happen not to be a morning person. Luckily I enjoy early mornings. Every little bit helps our planet even downunder we haven’t nailed it though we still cling onto the title of green clean New Zealand/Aotearoa.


  4. How beautiful are those Dogwoods! Here we call them Cornus- not the prettiest of words!- but I was delighted to find some already, growing in gardens, on our recent trip to Northern Portugal. Have a lovely weekend!


  5. Oh, I miss the dogwoods which don’t grow in this spot – we do have redbud trees, but the dogwoods are always magical and special
    I love this line “living in a way that the Earth will be grateful for us.” People seem to have forgotten – or were never introduced to that concept of being the guardian of the earth and creatures that inhabit it. Show by example , is all you can do I guess.
    This is a different thought – “Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened.” I do understand what is being said, bathos sad to start each day that way. As one of the ancient relatives said at a 101 years, “each day I wake up is a gift and it is so grand.”
    Waking up with joy and excitement to see what “The Grand Adventure” has in store for the day ..and ready to see how you can earn your keep in nature and the world. A more positive view…there’s a lot of nature that needs a guardian each day every day? I think you, yourself, do that consciously or subconsciously


  6. May Meanders is a lovely idea. I can see your point that it would bring some balance to Walktober. I like the Rumi line: “Let the beauty we love be what we do.” Such sensible guidance.


  7. I do hope somebody volunteers to coordinate a spring walk, Dawn. It’s so much fun “walking” together — at any time of year! — and enjoying the scenery elsewhere vicariously. Our pink Dogwood is just starting to bloom — our neighbor’s white one is already a showpiece!


  8. I smiled, Robin, when I saw dogwoods in the title because I love them so. They’re so beautiful. Thanks for sharing the pics. Thanks also for the Rumi bits–one of my favorite writers.


Comments are delightful and always appreciated. I will respond when I can (life is keeping me busy!), and/or come around to visit you at your place soon. Thank you!

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