Updated: Sep 25
As soon as we started driving west from Kansas City International Airport Monday, I fell in love again with late afternoon light play and the light bright green of high spring punctuated by redbuds. There’s nothing like spring in Kansas or, from my limited sampling, the Midwest. Every manner of purple, white, pink, and peach blossom shimmies along with every manner of billowing, wispy, banked, or surging clouds.
When I first catapulted out of New Jersey (as so many do although NJ has extensive beauty of its own) in January of 1979 to finish my BA in Columbia, Missouri, I had no idea what winter would give way to, and when it happened that April, I missed many an Algebra class because I was stopped in my tracks outside my dorm by a redbud, a purple creature of great splendor. That, and Mexican food (its own kind of beauty), showed me worlds beyond my limited vision and taste buds. The color of the sky, sometimes almost a Maxfield Parrish painting come to life, in early twilight also threw me to the ground where I lay for long stretches (before I knew about ticks and chiggers).
At the same time, I know this poem by Wu Men Hui-k’ai (1183 – 1260) tells us how to live:
Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.
Having just come from Orlando to be with my mom and sister, I sought out the beauty of the now then and there in temperatures as high as high humidity: the live oaks massive as Godzilla, the scent of a white magnolia as large as my face, the turquoise shimmer on the water in a pool and the delicious cool of that water on my face, and the first bite into a particularly good falafel.
Back home, I’m swimming through the season of ten thousand flowers, trying to see more than a few hundred. Today in big wind with storms on the horizon, I’ll go on another beauty walk, reminding myself that sometimes more than usual, the most beautiful thing is now.