I absolutely love this time of year. When I drive the kids to school or travel across the country for spring break, the trees are full of beautiful blossoms. Pink, pinkish, white, dark pink, creamy, almost red, reddy purple and every color you can imagine. Throw in the early bulbs and one can see yellows, reds, and purples. One of my favorites is the neon yellow forsythia bush. My other favorites are dogwood and redbud. I can’t help but smile and be in a good mood when these trees greet me in the mornings.
As we are driving to school, I point them out to the kids. “Get off those phones and look at these beautiful trees,” I say. I point them out and often slow down so they can get a good look at them. Sometimes I ask one of the kids to get a picture of the trees as we drive by. They roll their eyes and they lethargically lift their phones to point out the window. It hardly ever does justice to the real thing. Could be because some of the pictures have about three blooms in them and the rest is a blur. No effort in the photography department some mornings!
My teen gets aggravated at me because I seem to want to photograph all the trees between our house and school. In my defense I must say that there are some dogwoods of the most amazing pinky, peachy color on our school route. The trees are full of blooms and I know that it won’t last that long. I need a picture! I even give her some warning. “Look up! Look Up! At the next light is a beautiful dogwood tree. Pleeeeaassseee get me a picture.” After we whoosh by it, she looks up from her screen, and gives a tight little smile (smirk really) as if to say, “Oh, I am so, so sorry I missed that millionth picture of a blooming tree.”
I drive on. I can’t really say much because when I was young, I remember my mother calling out to us from the front seat of the station wagon, “Look, kids, there are some …whatever she happened to be looking at…sit up and see what is out the windows.” I remember groaning and rolling my eyes. We did not have phones, but my head was usually stuck in a book and I did not want to see, or appreciate, the landscape of west Texas and eastern New Mexico. Sometimes Arizona, Colorado and Utah. She could see the beauty that surrounded her and she pointed it out to us. Unceasingly.
And I now do that to my kids. Unceasingly. Not because there is some kind of mothering rule that states: What was done to me must now be done to mine. I look and drink in nature because it is beautiful. Because it is peaceful and because it gives me hope that life will go on and that it is worth living. I point out nature because that is an assurance that a higher power is running things and we are not all accidents. And because it is absolutely worth looking at.
I don’t try to tell my kids all of that. I think they already know. They are figuring out that at the end of a long, stressful day a sit on the swing watching the sun set is far better than taking a pill and pulling the covers over their heads. They know that a walk up the mountain or around the pond is a great way to think about their behavior. They also know that being outside keeps them from having to clean the bathrooms. Oh, they may fuss and fidget in the car but I have been dragged outside more than once to watch a sunrise that was spotted when the teen went out to feed the cats. I have been the recipient of many dandelion bouquets and one time was presented with two dead snakes at the back screen door. They know about nature. They just don’t want to record it on their phones for their mother.
The teen has developed a new way of helping me out with what she calls my “tree addiction.” If I ask for a picture, she looks up and says, “CLICK” in a loud, sarcastic voice. Then she smiles at me. Immediately the backseat erupts in loud CLICK, CLICK, CLICKing. They all giggle and keep on clicking. I drive on.
The CLICKS don’t produce much, but they do create memories of laughter and giggling from three silly kids and that is worth more than all the tree pictures in the world.