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Today is April 19, 2018

Outdoors

Nature’s healing powers

Nature’s healing powers

A Bradford pear, once considered hopeless, is now strong and viable in its spring wardrobe. Photo: Tony Kinton

"Pap warn’t in a good humor—so he was his natural self.” That poignant line from Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” has always coaxed me toward contemplation. Taken within its context, the line is easily grasped, but leaving it only there in that context seems ill placed and has often evaded me. I have regularly allowed the line, or at least broader potentials of that line, to drift from its specified setting and creep forward or backward to more encompassing concepts. In my mental ramblings, Pap has represented people I knew who were seldom in good humor, and Pap has even morphed from human to circumstance. Would that latter be reverse personification if employed as a literary device? No matter. It’s the factor of bad humor that is pertinent.

And pertinent it is to constantly deal with someone who isn’t in good humor. In fact, after a few tortuous minutes of doing so, nothing is more pertinent. Constant complaints; never a speck of contentment or gratitude. The list is long. Best avoided, these folks.

Then there is that reverse personification—a new literary device I suppose—where a similar dour mood no longer is restricted to an individual but is transferred to life’s twists and turns. These, too, can vary. Weather or health conditions are good examples. And they are examples that can turn back to the human element and lead to a bad humor over which we often have no, or at least very little, control. They are what they are. But Nature’s healing can help mitigate such situations. This past February was a case in point for me.

Health kicked up its heels once again. Aging was and is partly responsible, but that can’t be reversed. And then the weather. Rain and more rain. On the positive side, that rain broke drought conditions. But the humor wasn’t good. Poor health prevailed. The bulk of my usual wholesome and relished diet of leaves and twigs was replaced by assorted medications. Days I would have preferred to be outside were replaced by brooding in the recliner, watching rain through the window and nursing infirmities. Good humor was not to be found. Regrettably, I was a reasonable facsimile of Pap! That is until one morning this past week when I felt a touch better and there was this strange and welcomed orb of light breaking the horizon to the east.

A few years back I planted a Bradford pear in the pasture in front of my house, out near the county road. That tiny tree did well in its first couple years, but I discovered one autumn day that a spike buck I had seen regularly had taken a liking to the sapling and had rubbed it severely before ultimately bending the trunk and pushing it over. That day I walked back to the house and retrieved a hatchet, electing to chop the little tree and toss it on the burn pile. But I didn’t. Instead, I straightened it as best I could and staked it back into a semi-upright position. I eventually pretty much forgot it. Then that morning of sunshine awhile back. Two years had passed since that suspect repair of the tree.

Nature had worked its magic. The tree was tall and handsome, barely a hint of damage. It had blossomed and put on new leaves and there stood proudly in its corner. Healing had come to that tree. My humor improved. And this holds true for a great many of life’s challenges. The Creation around us can be a balm, the perfect salve of restoration. Nature is viable.

Now with spring, those healing properties are enhanced. If you have been outside, you have already seen the buttercups and flowering quince and dogwood. The grass possesses a rejuvenating hue. There may have been, depending in large measure on geography, the sky-high flight of migrating geese, snows in particular, heading north.

At some point the bird feeders held change. Brightly colored Goldfinches may still be around, but most have likely moved on. However, there is a plethora of cardinals, never so stunning as right now. The wren has been and still is flitting into and out of every quiet spot available under the carport or back porch or storage shed or neglected work boot, tending to the young. In the woods and fields, gaudy gobblers are strutting and pirouetting. Oaks have put on new foliage.

And we have the azaleas and yellow bells. If not yet, the cannas and Easter lilies will be along directly. Overall, the world is now simply brighter. Healing is on the horizon. Pap would have done well to consider such happenings.

Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. His newest book is “Rambling Through Pleasant Memories.” Order from Amazon.com or Kinton’s website: www.tonykinton.com.

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