You could be sad on a dark day like this, cold and wet as it is, but only if you took the short view.
Of course it’s hard not to take the short view with a three-day blow coming in and so many of last year’s dead leaves still carpeting the earth, some even still clinging to the branches, waiting on this wild strong wind to shake them loose and return them to the mother.
But if you take the long view you see what’s happening under those dead leaves. Violets right there in the woods! And is that poison ivy peeking out with shiny face?
It all starts over. Any child will remind you of that.
The other day I spent a few hours walking around a pond with two young children who have just witnessed their first death, that of Uncle Ed as we all called him, though he was grand-uncle to them.
“I’m sad,” the little one, who is four going on five. We were walking along picking up rocks and winging them into the water
“Why are you sad?” I asked him.
“I’m sad because Uncle Ed died.”
“Ah I’m sad about that too!” I said. “But lots of people think we go right to Heaven when we die and see all our favorite people. The ones who died before us I mean.”
“And lots of people think you come back as a baby.” he said.
“That’s right! Lots of people believe in that. They call that reincarnation.”
“I think this is what happens,” he said brightening. “You’re a baby, then you’re a kid, then you’re a grownup, then you’re an uncle and then you die. Then you start again: baby, kid, teenager, (I forgot teenager) grownup, uncle!” I didn’t have the heart to interrupt and point out that his own actual uncle is a young guys in his 20s. “I think you come back and come back – again and again!”
“Wouldnt that be wonderful!” I said and suddenly those lines from Birches came into my mind where the speaker in that Robert Frost poem says, “Earth’s the right place; I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.”
The right place for love and the right place for letting go, I thought .
I’ve been having a hard time with that second part but I find comfort in company like this, meaning the company of Frost and these children.
Here are the children from our day together:
The little one is the one with all this talk. The big one just said “TT, well your brain never dies. We know that!”
And then I thought of this poem, also by Frost, that wrote itself on my own spongy grey hard drive back when I was a girl and read poetry the way other people eat. It’s called In Hardwood Groves.
The same leaves over and over again! They fall from giving shade above
To make one texture of faded brown
And fit the earth like a leather glove.
Before the leaves can mount again
To fill the trees with another shade,
They must go down past things coming up.
They must go down into the dark decayed.
They must be pierced by flowers and put
Beneath the feet of dancing flowers.
However it is in some other world
I know that this is way in ours.
All I can say is thank God for the young, who see things the rest of us miss.