"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome." -- Charlotte Bronte

"Yesterday's failures are today's seeds that must be diligently planted to be able to abundantly harvest tomorrow's successes."-- Author Unknown

    Hello! '72

    After all those snowstorms that we have had this winter here in Virginia, itís a big relief to finally smell the air of spring and see its signs Ė the signs of life and growth. The tulips and daffodils are now coming out of the ground; birds have started building its nests and their feathers are now starting to turn from dull, dark and colorless to bright, brilliant, beautiful and colorful. When you love nature, you love every little thing in it. You see beauty everywhere and its sights and sounds allow you to concentrate in the exciting loveliness of life. However, for all these years Iíve been waiting for something to come to me Ė words that a poet might use to illuminate lifeís mysteries. But so far there has been nothing. The inspiration has not been enough to swell up the atrophic part of my brain. No, Iím not a dreamer, and Iím not aspiring to become a poet either. Iím just an ordinary old man, glancing every now and then at the twilight of my life. There is nothing wrong with it. Is there?

    Since we moved in to a quite neighborhood with lots of woods and meadows around five years ago, every now and then I like to conjure up images like Iím in the wild country, but still have the comforts of city life. I like to get into the woods and listen to its quietness and then conjure up images of the Sherwood Forest with my bows and arrows ready to challenge Robin Hood. Itís my way of seeking connection with nature that makes me feel Iím part of the world, of humanity, of the pulse of life that beats through everyone and everything. Itís also my way of relaxing especially when Iím emotionally drained or physically exhausted or when my mind and spirit are troubled, in order to restore my energy so I can leave my remote island of worry and drift back to the mainland of life. It all too often reminds me that life is not a race won by the fastest. So I would then slow down to take time to notice and appreciate the beauty that surrounds me.

    I'm one of those who believe that itís not the riches of the world that make a person happiest. Itís the simple, everyday things that make life so worthwhile like watching a touching sunset outlining the limbs of a barren tree, or looking at the clouds floating across the sky, or listening to the birds talking to themselves, or savoring the warmth of the sun on your skin, or being conscious of how the wind caresses your body, etc. These things, simple as they are and are there all the time, can expand your vision, as well as give you a more profound sense of who you are. They can ease you into the warm bath of balance. They can also impact your senses. They not only provide you a challenging exercise for the mind and memory they also sharpen your appreciation of these golden moments in time. Sadly, itís the nature of man to become oblivious to that which is around him daily.†

    Spring is my favorite season of the year. Itís like a renewal. It is as though the dead are coming back to life. What were only cars seen on the roads in our neighborhood, I now see people walking with their dogs, some are biking, some are jogging and some are just strolling with their children. I canít wait to see trees sprouting halos of translucent green, flowers blooming and butterflies hovering over them, and the sounds of daybreak morphing into a musical of sorts where birds sing in different notes while dogs bark from a distance, adding character and charm to the spring symphony. Especially on weekends and the weather is pleasant, Iíd love to just sit on our backyard porch with a cup of coffee early in the morning and enjoy this serenade of natureís orchestra.

    With the weather warming up, I started jogging to the lake in our area before daybreak this past Sunday. While at the lake, with luck and good timing, I noted, as always especially early in spring, how slowly the sun moves until it breaks free of the horizon. Then, with almost no warning, it throws a beam of light, catching the tops of the trees. For a brief, beautiful moment, they glow golden against the darker background, illuminating the lacy fog drifting over the lake. Itís the reason why I went jogging while it was dark even when it was still cold because itís a moment like this I wanted to seize.

    Spring after spring it never ceased to fascinate me to see some living things coming out of the ground. Like animals that hibernate during winter time, plants undergo a sort of suspended animation and then as soon as it starts warming up a little bit, they explode in the ground like they want to scream Ė ďIím alive!Ē†You can feel its energy and your spirits soar. Itís amazing what the weather can do to every living thing including human beings. I have to admit that I myself may have some kind of seasonal depression and itís been worst this year with all the cold weather and the snowstorms we have had. I had to go to the gym as frequent as I could, stay outside when itís sunny as long as I could, and spend as much time as I could with our grandson to keep me from becoming a grumpy old man especially on watching those deer eating everything in our yard that still has green in it. I guess they are so hungry and they donít have much to eat anywhere else that they keep munching on the plants they hadnít been eating before. I feel helpless not being able to do anything to keep them from making love with my plants over and over again, and to be able to say: ďNot tonight, deer.Ē

    Well, itís spring time again Ö.† or, Ö maybe not yet, but spring is almost there regardless of what Phil, the groundhog that saw the shadow, predicted. After all, the clock will be set one hour ahead this coming weekend for the daylight saving time. For those of us who pledged coming to our reunion at the Smokey Mountains, this is just a reminder that the Mountains are getting near and that we come to the Mountains, not the Mountains coming to us. May is just a couple of months away. Some of us are already so excited that they are now ďlocked and loaded and ready to be goaded.Ē I could imagine the Little River in Great Smokey Mountains that waits for no one as it cascades over the rocks.

Enjoy the spring, everyone. And Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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