Nature's stalwart ones
Our normally mild winter weather has taken on a bit of a chill thanks to the rare polar jet that is sweeping over us. Hubby has educated me that the arctic jet is what often brings us our cooler temps. But to have the polar jet come through is a rare occurrence. Because of this fact, there was snow in the neighboring towns yesterday morning. On the way to work, Hubby was able to see snow on the hills coming right down to the freeway on which he was commuting. That's something we've never seen before.
I spent my day watching the thermometer never get out of the 40's (5-9C) as well as making sure that all my tender subtropical plants (e.g., birds of paradise, hibiscus, and plumeria) were all tucked under cold frames so they could survive the frost forecast for the coming night. I'm careful to choose plants that can handle temps down to 20F (-7C) so I simply need to make sure that they are protected against frost forming on them.
As I puttered about the garden making sure everything would be fine, I interrupted a robin that had lit on the side of the pond to get a drink. I haven't seen a robin in the garden at all this year, even in the spring when robin-spotting would be the norm. Why was I seeing one now? I thought about this lone robin and where he must have flown in from. He probably came from a mountain clime where the weather is much more harsh than here. To him, our winter "chill" must have felt quite comfortable compared to the cold back home.
As I continued my garden chores, I found not one, but two confused lilac blossoms on two different bushes. Last year, I found one as well.
The lilac is a bush that needs stress in order to bloom. Normally, that stress comes in the form of a cold winter in states like New Hampshire where the lilac is the state flower. But here, we don't have severe temps that stress lilacs enough. Warm climate lilac varieties have been bred and these two of mine are of those varieties. Our very dry summers and the stress from lack of moisture can stress the lilac much like a cold winter, causing it to produce buds that will bloom in the spring. That's why sometimes my lilacs get confused once the autumnal rains come and think it's time to send out a measly little blossom or two at the same time that it's losing its leaves for the winter.
Since yesterday, I've thought a lot about the lone robin and the solitary lilac blooms. To some, they may appear out of sync--quirky anomalies with poor timing. Yet, I see them as symbols of steadfastness and stalwart hope.
I see the lilacs as a reminder that my stresses and trials in life are the things that have made me bloom. I haven't reveled in any trial while I'm in the midst of it, but when I look back I can see how each trial has caused me to grow and blossom in a way that I wouldn't have if I'd been spared the trial.
I see the robin as a reminder that circumstances are all relative. My coldest and darkest "winters" in life may be seen as a blessed respite by someone who has experienced even harsher conditions. If they could light in my world for a brief moment, they might see it as a "tropical paradise". I need to remember that when I feel things are dark and cold.
And finally, I see both the lilacs and the robin as wonderful reminders that it is okay for me to be "out of sync" and "quirky". I may not be on the timetable that seems socially acceptable, but that's okay. It's my timetable and my seasons of life. Instead of comparing myself to others, I need to just focus on where I am and make the most out of the season I'm experiencing. I need to take a cue from nature's stalwart ones.
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