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Family's admiration for forsythia must be genetics

Apr. 11, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

"Forsythia is pure joy. There is not an ounce, not a glimmer of sadness or even knowledge in forsythia. Pure, undiluted, untouched joy." -- Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I have previously written about forsythia. Yet, each spring when it blooms in its magnificent plumes of fiery yellow, I cannot help but feel stirrings within my soul. Admiration for this humble bush must be genetic.

My mother and father planted forsythia in a corner of our yard in my childhood home. Each spring, as I grew a year older, it, too, grew; sprouting new woody branches bursting with a yellow so perfect, only God could have created it. I recall Mom cutting a few branches and placing them in front of a mirror in a vase in our entrance -- which doubled their visual impact, creating an intense glow upon entering our front door. As the evening sun blazed through our picture window, the effect was ethereal.

Therefore, when my family and I moved onto Ohio 243, it was a welcome discovery to find two small forsythia plants on our property. Like my mother, I look forward to snipping a few slips and placing them in a vase. However, because our home is arranged differently than my childhood home, I place the vase in the center of our dinning room table -- as this is the hub of our home. These idyllic blossoms last about week or two -- both in the wild and in a vase. Yet, those precious few days are a blaze of golden glory full of inspiration.

One spring, perhaps five or so years ago, I came down with some sort of virus. It was the type of bug that kept me in bed. My daughter, not used to her mom ever being bed-ridden for any length of time, was sincerely worried. Who knew Mom could get sick? This was her first lesson. Therefore, not knowing what to do, she asked her Dad for help. Together they gathered a bouquet of forsythia and placed it next to my bed. While I am fairly certain the type of virus I had was a 24-48 hour bug, when I was able to leave the bed the next day, my daughter (and even I) were convinced of forsythia's restorative abilities.

Perhaps this is what forsythia truly does for one's psyche: It restores. Restores hope, restores possibilities, restores peace and possibly even a certain amount of equanimity. I believe I can best illustrate this last point through pondering this past winter. Truly, at least to this writer, it was a winter that seemed to not possess an ending. Then again, maybe all winters feel that way by March.

Still, this winter found all of us in the Hill house sick at one point. In fact, I am certain we each took turns being sick throughout the month of February. It seems there was always some form(s) of medication on our kitchen counter throughout each week of February. Therefore, with the arrival of the March winds as well as the time change, we began to hope for the arrival of spring. Listening to the national weather forecast, it was obvious Mother Nature had different plans. Even with the arrival of Spring Break, winter held us in its strong talons.

Despite the dismal forecast, our family went away for a few days during Spring Break to an isolated cabin on the Cumberland River in Kentucky. Situated directly in front of the river, our family anticipated three days of sitting on the cabin's porch drinking coffee in the morning and watching the water flow. Instead, we huddled inside during the morning, viewing the river through windows as we tried to shake the chill from the previous night. Rather than spend our afternoons leisurely basking in the sunshine while fishing, reading and walking, my husband dutifully built a campfire in the afternoons so we would have a place in which to take "warm-up" breaks while enjoying our out-of-doors activities.

One afternoon, my daughter and I were walking around the cabin as we prepared for a walk down the lane, when I paused to examine the forsythia that grew at the corner of the porch. Its branches were relaxed and billowy, like the loosened hair of an angel.

My daughter, taking in the tall, brilliant bush said, "Oh Mom, I don't know what it is about forsythia, but it always makes me happy."

I smiled and added, "Like spring singing to us, 'I will be here soon'."

"Yeah, that could be it. Although, I think it is so much more....Maybe it is hope. I don't know, I just love the way the branches play in the wind."

And, my Dear Reader, perhaps that is our lesson: Finding a way to "play" in the winds of life.

The forsythia blooms forth, despite -- and, perhaps, in spite of -- the weather. It seems to me Mother Nature is teaching us one of the many lessons she has to offer.

May we all "bloom and play" with the brilliance of the forsythia throughout our life.

Stephanie Hill is a freelance writer and an eighth-grade reading and writing teacher at South Point Middle School. She is also a lifelong resident of Lawrence County. She can be reached at hill992@zoominternet.net.

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