As I sit down to write on this sunny Sunday morning, I’m again convinced that springtime is the ultimate reminder of the beauty in this world. I’d planned to get back to working on my latest novel, but the breathtaking scene outside my front window demands something different.
Spring flowers are bursting forth with wild abandon, untouched and unaided by human hands. We’ve survived a long, dark winter; a stretch of time shadowed by more than dreary weather. I’m enjoying the glorious riot of pink on the tree outside. Yes, I’m a “pink girl.” I grew up wanting to live in a pink house. It doesn’t get much more dedicated to a color than that!
We’ve lived in our house for twenty-eight years (give or take). We had no children when we moved in, but there were bedrooms to fill and a school nearby. Within the first year of living here, we had a new puppy and a baby on the way. That “baby” is now twenty-seven and living next door with his wife in their own house.
But we didn’t stop at one. When our son turned three, our first daughter arrived, followed by another little girl to round out our family of five.
The blooming of the pink crabapple tree always brings back special memories. Ever since the kids arrived, I’ve earned groans every spring when I insist we stand underneath the glorious branches laden with millions of pink blossoms for pictures. Depending on schedules and life stages, the various photos include poses with one, two, or all three of the kids.
There are also special snapshots that include extended family.
I’m so thankful they all humor me with these annual photo sessions. When I look back through boxes of old pictures plus all the ones on my phone and in the computer, I sometimes wonder what I’ll ever do with so many pictures taken around one blossoming tree.
Should I delete some of the photographs? After all, most are hardly portrait quality masterpieces! There are shots with eyes closed against a glaring sun, heads turned at distractions, and a few inevitable squabbles as we crowded together. I bet that if I gathered one hundred of my pink tree pictures (it wouldn’t be hard, there are so many), most are perhaps “flawed” if I look at them with a critical eye.
But I won’t delete any of them. After all, they are snippets of what actual life is like. The photos are a grouping of everyday moments. Moments that, while we were living them, seemed commonplace, and making time to take the pictures almost felt like a burden even. After all, the blossoms only last for a few days, and if a storm rolls through, they’ll be gone in a matter of hours. I never wanted to miss taking pictures in front of the tree when it was in its annual state of glory.
The tree has a reliable cycle. Quiet and sleepy through the long winters, followed by a slow awakening. If you think to check, you’ll see tiny, tight buds forming, wine-colored and barely noticeable. You can never be sure exactly when they’ll burst open, taking on an almost fluffy appearance of beautiful color. The intense pink takes my breath away.
Right now, as I sit here appreciating the tree’s beauty, a solitary blossom dances slowly to the ground, caught on a puff of air, before landing softly on the bright green grass below. It’s a poignant reminder to enjoy this glorious sight now, before it’s too late.
It won’t be long before the petals fade. They’ll litter the grass and driveway below like huge snowflakes, but the warmed air finally makes snow improbable. The spring breeze will quickly carry them away, or the lawnmower will shred them as summer approaches.
But my pink tree will keep producing even after its blooms fade. Dark green leaves will remain, along with a heavy crop of tiny little apples. Eventually, there will be a noticeable increase in the sporadic thumps against our bay window after twittering birds partake of the fermenting fruit. Poor little things!
Eventually, the fruit will fall to the ground, messier than the petals of early spring. Daily sweeping of the driveway won’t be enough to prevent the staining of the concrete. Vehicle tires will pulverize the tree’s bounty. The toddlers that posed under that very tree with me through the years, their little hands thrown up over their eyes to block the shining son, now drive cars that will run over the tiny apples.
Where have the years gone?
Eventually, the heat of summer will fade to the crisp, cool nights of autumn. More apples will fall, frustrating my husband with the mess. But the only way that tree is leaving here is when it (or me) dies a natural death.
The weight of its many branches threatened it last year, so I looked away while the hubby trimmed away some excess. The weight was causing the trunk to split, making the pruning necessary to prolong the life of my tree.
With the low-hanging branches gone, our photo session last night required a slightly different angle.
It isn’t lost on me that I’m never alone in the annual photography sessions under the pink tree. This alone is a testament to how blessed my life has been while we’ve lived in this house. It’s just the two of us living here now, but thankfully the kids still come and go. This is still their “home”, and I hope it always will be. If not this physical place, I hope that wherever we call home will be special to the three of them as well.
I’m also learning to appreciate the beauty in other areas of the country where one of our kids is pursuing dreams of her own.
There may come a time where schedules don’t align during the brief annual window when my tree boasts its riot of color. I’ve come to understand that a selfie taken under my tree will be sufficient, too. Like the pink tree, everything lives through different seasons. Important people fill some of our days. But other times, we enjoy things on our own, exploring our own needs, and discovering new things that give us joy.
Many things in nature remind us of the cycles of life. There will be slow, sleepy days where not much seems to happen, times for rest and renewal. Then suddenly, big bursts of joy hit us. Even when unexpected storms rage, causing upheaval and turmoil, destruction even, we remember the winds will eventually blow themselves out, followed by a contemplative quiet. The storms pass, and it all begins again.
It is the promise of yet another springtime that fuels our hopes.
Another petal drifted to the ground just now, reminding me of the long list of springtime activities I hope to accomplish today. But as it does every single year, my tree has gifted me with a pause, a chance to reflect on the breathtaking beauty of life. And even though this year’s blooms won’t last much longer, I’m learning that if I keep my eyes open, nature will find another amazing way to remind me of what’s important tomorrow.
Welcome to spring, my friends! Kim
How long would it take you to walk across India? For me, it took about a year.
Funny thing is, I never even left the United States. Actually, since it was 2020, I barely left my neighborhood. Make that two neighborhoods.
I’ve written about my daily walking habit before, and I promise not to talk about it in every blog post, but my unexpected India badge gave me an idea.
Like so many of us, I had to scrap travel plans last year because of the pandemic. A trip to see our daughter in March, a writers’ conference in Nashville in May, and another conference in Las Vegas in November: all canceled.
Instead, I spent 95% of my time either at home or at our lake cabin. Lots of working, lots of writing, and too much Netflix made up the bulk of my year. I bet you can relate. To keep my sanity, and a promise to myself, I also walked.
I don’t even want to do the math on how many times this means I circled our neighborhood because it would probably make me dizzy (we considered investing in a treadmill but I fear it would soon become an expensive clothes hanger). At least there was a change of scenery and some hills when I walked at the lake. But this still only meant two main paths.
My obsession to hit a minimum of 10,000 steps every single day gave me lots of positive benefits, but it didn’t take me very far from my house. This gets me back to my idea (see, after walking the same route for months on end, I’m even kind of going in circles here 😊).
If I had planned to walk instead of fly to Nashville or Las Vegas, would the culmination of my daily step count have gotten me there and back in a year? Thanks to easy-to-use map apps on my phone, it wasn’t a hard question to answer.
It turns out my daily walks added up to enough miles to not only get me all the way to Vegas, I could have tossed a few coins in a slot machine, turned around, and walked back as far as Rapid City, South Dakota. I could be visiting Mount Rushmore right now!
It’s been years since we last visited this national treasure, but the realization prompted me to dig for pictures from our one and only vacation there with the kids. True confessions: I couldn’t find those exact photographs, but it was still fun to thumb my way through a few boxes of fun memories. I really need to get all my pictures organized!
While I missed out on a fun week of learning from amazing authors in Vegas, I enjoyed this trip down memory lane today.
What about Nashville?
Turns out I could have made it all the way there, visited the Grand Ole Opry (maybe they were closed down like so many other things, but since we are just pretending here…), turned around, and made it back as far as Minneapolis.
Visiting Nashville is still on my bucket list, but I’ve made plenty of shopping excursions to Minneapolis with family and friends. I could be shopping at the Mall of America right now, or perusing one of the outlet malls. While I don’t like to shop as much as I used to, I am going through withdrawals these days and look forward to getting back there in the not-too-distant future.
Some shopping is in order, as is some time away with friends. My yoga pants and sweatshirts are getting worn out from over use! Dress clothes I bought in Arizona in February 2020 still have tags on them since comfy clothes have been my “go to” while working from home for the past year.
It’s fun to think back on so many weekend trips, and it makes me realize how much I miss those get-a-ways. I know there will be more fun in the future!
Last year didn’t turn out like any of us hoped, but there were undoubtedly lessons learned and unexpected blessings. I’m so grateful I kept up my walking routine. When I started at the beginning of 2020, I had little hope of sticking with it. But habits can be engrained if we give them enough time—one day at a time.
Walking in circles for nearly a year also makes me think how this can happen in other areas of our lives, too. If we keep doing the same thing and thinking the same thoughts, day after day, we don’t get very far! Heck, we might not even get out of our own neighborhoods.
Just look how much of this big beautiful country my feet would have taken me to if I’d have broken out of the pattern and followed different paths. This is all metaphorical, I have no desire to walk across the U.S., but it really makes me think about how impactful our daily habits and our thought patterns are on the way we live our lives.
I walked in circles in 2020 to stay healthy (and not gain thirty extra pounds eating popcorn and watching too much television) because the world shut down. Hopefully, we can see continued progress in the months ahead, and start traveling again.
But regardless, my walking paths have served as a powerful reminder to do what we can to avoid getting stuck in a rut. I’ve heard it said that if a ship veers off course by as little as two degrees, it can end up somewhere else entirely at the end of the journey! I believe the same is true for us. Tweaking small things in our daily routine can take our lives in totally different directions.
If you want to head in a different direction in some part of your own life, shift by two degrees and see where your feet can take you!
Walking this journey alongside you, Kim
Kimberly Diede Author
Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Kimberly Diede and I'm a fiction author and family girl. When time permits, I am happiest with a great cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I love to alternate between reading and writing. Winters here can be long, dark and cold. Summers are unpredictable, lovely and always too short. Every season of the year, as in every season of life, is a gift. Let's celebrate it together!