Margaret once described the progression of the seasons this way: “the quiet anticipation of winter, the joyous activity of spring, the restful fulfillment of summer, and the hopeful acceptance of autumn.” We can share with Margaret some of what brought her joy in the weeks leading up to her birthday and celebrate her special day, April 17, and then carry on, season after season, anticipating and noticing all that Nature brings. To begin, if you happen to awaken in the early hours, before the sky lightens, open a window and listen for the dawn chorus of birds. That urgent calling out of bird to bird will set you up for coursing of energy that rushes through all beings in this season of bursting of new life.
A few weeks before her birthday, Margaret would have looked for her favorite flower, the trillium, appearing in clumps in the dappled shade of mixed forests. Its clear-white three-petal flower rises on a stalk above bright green heart shaped leaves that grow in whorls of three, a flag announcing that spring has truly arrived. It’s not the earliest flower—skunk cabbage heralds the season in its own vibrant way, Indian plum puts forth its small flowers and other bushes and vines unfurl their bright pink—but finding trilliums in bloom puts a stamp on spring, a feeling of relief. “We made it!” Trilliums are rare so seeing them reappear we can exhale and renew our sense that however precarious, wonders do still happen.
To celebrate Margaret—and follow in her footsteps—I went for a walk with dear friends who are familiar with her storied life and who also revel in finding spring flowers and noting all the new growth and the appearance of old favorites. We went to a local park that follows the steeply descending course of the Deschutes River through a series of falls as it rushes toward Budd Inlet and Puget Sound. The park has been closed for months to refurbish its trails and add new features so it was with great anticipation and a sense of discovery that we took to the path that threaded the high banks of the river. The froth and surge of water, the glint of the sun and sparkle of scattered drops as water met rocky outcroppings added to the festivity of our outing.
We were richly rewarded!
At the end of our excursion we found a spot and set up our chairs—still socially distant but close enough for real conversation without the aid of technology—and enjoyed sharing our reflections with some cake with a salute to Margaret. We calculated that it has been 136 years since her birth in the old house that overlooked that same river around a few bends from where we sat. So much has changed—the house is long gone and the river itself has been impounded behind a dam to create Capitol Lake—and yet so much remains. The same spring flowers still bloom and delight. Her story still resonates and her teachings still matter: Don’t pick the trilliums! Let them flower and fade back into the earth so they can gather strength to return again, spring eternal.