I spot my first Dutchman’s Breeches splaying its seemingly delicate whisper of green foliage across layers of crusted oak leaves. The pink blush of the Spring Beauty will follow; and then the slim white faces of the Squirrel Corn, the royal purple of the Violets, the quilted leaf of the Bloodroot, and the delicate fragrance of the Hepatica. And then . . .
And then I can’t remember.
I, who have spent the last six years photographing wildflowers, can’t recall the names of faces that follow spring’s firstborn. It feels as if a misty fog cloaks my memory, growing denser with each passing year. I wait, patiently, for the sun to clear away the dampness, to warm the tiny crevices of my mind. But the sun, that dearest of friends, that golden ball of light that breathes life into the earth’s frosty floor, that warms a body chilled by the biting winds of April, and creates the magical diamonds dancing across Lake Michigan, has betrayed me.
Betrayed me. For the sun that has kissed and caressed my body for decades has silently, secretly, tainted my skin with poison. And for the seventh time, the third in less than six months, it will take a knife to remove the cancer.
How can that which nourishes also harm?
I have no answer to this question. And so many others.
What I do know is that despite the lingering gray dampness cloaking the earth, I can see the many-fingered limbs of the giant oaks, maples, and sassafras trees sprouting buds. The mystery of their unraveling quiets the swirling of my mind. So, too, does the tweedling of the red-winged blackbird perched on the dusty tip of last year’s cattail, the distant drumming of the Pileated woodpecker, and the sharp, clear chirp of the cardinal.
And then the sun momentarily clears a path through the fog.
Of course, it is the striped leaf of the Trout Lily, the jagged edges of the Cutleaf Toothwort, the flowing petals of the Bellwort and then . . .
And then my beloved Trilliums.
Isn’t life grand?
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