The Persistence of Beauty


W04April2017

My dad was 50 when I was born, and though he could have been my grandfather he never seemed old. My childhood memories are filled with our shared experiences in the woods, and to me he always seemed an enthused and energetic friend. As a college professor he could shape his schedule, working well into the night to have more free time by day. In summer we tackled arduous all day hikes bushwhacking the high peaks of the Adirondacks. During the school year our hikes were shorter, but also full of adventures.

He was somewhat allergic to trails, so I often found myself following him into uncharted woods and swamps. It was times like this when we were half lost that we made some of our best discoveries. One of my fondest memories is the first time I saw snowdrops. They spilled down a hidden hillside, ruins of a crumbling old house the only marker of where they had once been planted. It was far off the path, and I don’t think we ever found it again. But that afternoon he gathered a few plants to bring home, and nurtured them for many years in the yard of my childhood home until eventually there were thousands. Shortly before my mom sold the house I gathered some bulbs and brought them to my home here in Tennessee.

Snowdrops are one of the first plants to bloom in my garden. These flowers symbolize hope and rebirth. They are always a welcome sight after a cold and snowy winter, a signal that spring has returned. My dad has passed away, but passed on to me his love of gardening and nature. As I recently watched the luminous glow of these flowers in the fading light, I thought about how they were planted long ago by people I never met, and plucked from obscurity with our chance discovery in a distant forest. For a moment I felt the inherent sadness of sunset, but my feelings quickly turned to joy as I was inspired and encouraged by the persistence of beauty.