Article By: BUD COLE Special to The Press
Bud’s View: Take time to smell the wildflowers
I want to thank all my readers for the cards, emails and personal phone calls. Your kind support helped me through nine months in the hospital and rehab facilities. I also want to thank my friends and hospital staff. Finally, I would not be home now if not for my loving wife, Bev, pushing me to not give up. She continually told the doctors during my first two months in a coma to do everything possible to save me because I was strong and I would want to pull through.
Now let’s get back to work. My unplanned leave from writing my column and enjoying our home and wooded property reinforced in me how much there is to miss in life. It can happen out of nowhere. I entered the hospital in mid-July last year for out-patient hernia surgery, but due to complications and blood infections I was not able to return home until recently.
During the nine-plus months away from home I definitely missed Bev, our dog, Blue, and our cat, Charcole. But I also missed simple things like the smell of cut grass, goldfinches feeding on the dandelion seeds, the cheerful songs of our bird neighbors as they visit the feeders, our small pond and waterfall to feed and drink.
I also missed the seasonal changes of local flora species. Even the frustrations of being outsmarted by the gray squirrels and the three-plus months gathering fallen leaves from our wooded property would have been appealing in comparison to spending seven months on my back in the hospital ICU unit. Yes, I would much rather have been home taking care of yard chores.
Lying in the hospital I had plenty of time to think. I thought about the bluebirds that were about to take over one of our bluebird nest boxes to raise their second brood of the year and how in previous years they learned my special whistle tune, which meant I was offering mealworm treats on the patio. It came to mind how bluebirds probably attend Mother Nature’s kindergarten because they know how to share and how to take turns. Neither the male nor the female ate all the offered mealworms. Usually, one bluebird would eat about half the offered treats, then fly up to a branch in the red maple tree growing next to our patio. When one bird left the other one would come into dine. I also missed watching the plants in our garden grow to maturity providing the wonderful tastes of homegrown vegetables.
I spent the rest of the summer and early fall in a coma, missing the changing colors of the deciduous tree species growing on our property and even the continual falling of autumn leaves. During research for one of my columns I learned that a mature oak tree produces about 250,000 leaves. Multiply that by the trees on our property (about 75; many are oaks) and you can imagine the amount of time required to collect leaves each year. Despite the time necessary to gather leaves I would have found it delightful compared to lying on my back in the hospital. Thanks to my friends and fraternity brothers for working on the leaves last fall.
I also missed the time afield hunting pheasants with Blue. Not only was it good exercise, it was great to watch Blue’s natural instincts kick in as he trailed the pheasants’ scents during our hunting jaunts. I’m not as good a shot as I once was and it was comical to see how Blue looked at me after we had walked for several hours and I missed a bird he had flushed. I imagine he thought, “I do all this work nose to the ground, aren’t you supposed to hit them?”
I was not home to note the fall departures of the migrating birds. I always mark the date of the last ruby throated hummingbird to visit our nectar feeders, the departure of other songbirds who spend their winters in the south and the arrival of the winter birds, like the juncos. The white throated sparrow, like the junco, flies south to spend the winter season in this area.
The majority of my winters, since retiring from teaching elementary school, have been spent involved in photography, skiing, snowshoeing, traveling, playing with Blue and writing. Bev works full-time during the ski season at Blue Mountain Resort, so Blue and I had many hours together. I trained Blue to find shed deer antlers. White-tailed deer antlers are usually shed in late winter. This winter’s mild ending would have been excellent for hunting sheds.
The weather this spring was a roller-coaster ride. The mild winter and early spring weather provided perfect temperatures for the ephemeral wildflowers, but unfortunately I missed the budding and blooming of these wildflowers this spring. I missed the February blooming of coltsfoot, the later blooming spring beauties, trout lilies, bluets, bloodroots, swamp lilies and many of the other wildflowers that need the warming spring temperatures and full sunlight unblocked by tree leaves. The non-wildflower blooms of the narcissus, tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, dogwoods and forsythia were also missed. Fortunately, Bev brought in photos of the blooms on her IPad.
One goal in writing my column has been to extend my teaching career through writing about the wonders of nature. If you’ve learned anything from reading this column I hope you see how important it is to not stress out on the small issues, to appreciate every minute of life and to take notice of the beautiful world around you. We have no way of telling what can happen to us at any moment. So please take time to smell the roses, and the wildflowers. Life is short. Enjoy it to the fullest.
That’s the way I see it!
To schedule programs, hikes and birthday parties: 610-767-4043; comments: bbbcole[AT]enter.net
All Rights Reserved
© 2016 Bud Cole