Thursday, May 7, 2009

Flowering Dogwood in a Blue Clear Sky

My first trip down to the Hocking Hills this spring was stormy and gothic as you've seen before. My beloved redbud trees were in bloom, but looking like pale ghostly laughter amid scraggly bare brown branches all around.

I asked the innkeeper to send me an e-mail to let me know when the trees were just starting to turn spring green, so that I could plan to get up at 4:30 a.m. the next morning, jump in the car, and make a one-day whirlwind trip back down there. Well, the day I received the e-mail was just gorgeous, but by the time I would have traveled to the Hocking Hills at least half the day would have been gone. Couldn't go the next day due to a business-related phone call. Got rained out the day after that, at least according to the weather radar at my favorite weather website, Weather Underground.

As each precious day went by, I knew it was less and less likely to achieve the perfect combination of redbud trees blooming together with flowering dogwood trees together with just the right amount of spring green new leaves on the hillside trees. But anyways, I started out Saturday morning, and in my previous blog entry you can see plenty of clouds ... or weird Photoshopped skies to mask the clouds ... along with the spring green and red barns.

Then suddenly, out of a blue clear sky, emerged the one safe parking lot to pull off in and take pictures from on Thompson Ridge Road in Laurelville, Ohio. Now Thompson Ridge is a beautiful stretch of a scenic route. Only trouble is it's narrow, winding, steep in places, and doesn't have much of a safe shoulder alongside to stop anywhere even when the beauty gets real tempting.

But the one gravel parking lot was enough. And it provided access to the flowering dogwood against the sky. The redbud blossoms were long gone, had long since leafed out as the flowers camouflaged themselves by turning like chameleons into the common spring green. But the dogwood was a more than worthy consolation prize.

What the Hocking Hills have taught me over the years is that you never go down the same road twice. If you try to go back looking for that perfect spot where everything came together last time for an especially-pleasing photo, what you'll find are memories of an ideal moment in the past alongside of a jarring present that doesn't quite compare because it's not the same. So the alternatives are to travel different roads, or travel familiar roads as if they're new.

Because life can still hold wondrous surprises and God-given gifts if you remain open for them. Like in Forrest Gump's world, life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get ... and unexpected hoped-for events can seem to come "out of the blue clear sky." Fascinatingly enough, while driving this past Saturday through the Hocking Hills, I heard a radio advertisement with a local actor pretending to be Forrest Gump. I like to think this fits a theme in my life, as is also apparent from this earlier blog entry:

Anyways, I went out hoping for redbud, came up instead with dogwood, and was not disappointed.

Question for Readers: Have you ever embarked on a quest looking for one thing, and found something else, a surprise maybe, just as good or even better?


Montanagirl said...

What a beautiful post! I have often gone searching for the perfect photo op, and lo and behold, didn't get that "one", but another scene presented itself, which was just as good if not better, than the one I had so earnestly sought after. Life is full of surprises! And your photo is beautiful as well.

Annie said...

What a beautiful photo. I'm always fascinated by Dogwoods. I love that name and we don't have Dogwoods out here.

Janie said...

Great dogwood picture, and wonderful attitude. Life is full of surprises. I try not to have too many prior expectations, and to stay open to what will be. Generally, that works pretty well.

EcoRover said...

Thank you for wonderful photo of a beloved dogwood from my misspent Appalachian youth!

You're spot on that we cannot step in the same river twice (Heraclitus) and the steps along the journey should always bring surprises as delightful (and sometimes as awful) as the goal itself.

Sometimes I totally forget why I started a journey. Kind of like following hyperlink-to-hyperlink on the internet!

mountain.mama said...

A very thoughtful post with a beautiful picture to go with it.

Today when I was hiking I remembered one morning after a rain when the sun lit up the raindrops on the trees and it was so incredibly magical. My friend and I marveled at the beauty of nature. The next morning we went for a walk at the same time in the same place. I brought my camera, but the magic of the morning before was gone. And that's the way it goes!

Poetic Artist said...

Wonderful pictures and as usual beautiful words to go capture the feelings. I think life is always surprising us. That is what makes the mystery and the joy of the journey.
Does u get up that early alot?
Have a good weekend.

CoyoteFe said...

Wonderful! And, so fitting for spring. This is the time when I find so many things that I am not looking for. And, is that not the definition of a true blessing? Yea Spring!

CountryDreaming said...

What a thoughtful assortment of replies ... thank you. As for getting up early in the morning, I tend to be a night owl, but will have to admit that early rising does pay off when it comes to having the best chance for a day full of adventures.