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April 20, 2007

A Day Without Sunshine

The trees explode like Roman Candles in the Spring. An orchestrated symphony of color painted onto the hills of Southern Middle Tennessee. The payoff for the winter. Bradford Pears and Red Maples. Then the Red Buds and finally the Dogwoods bloom. These diligently manicured hardwood forests waking up from the winter. Over-saturated with blooming fruit trees. Weeping Cherries and Tulip Poplars.

Behind the blooms, immature leaves emerge in the lightest shades of green. The seeds of the Red Maples helicopter down to earth. All seems to be progressing according to a grand design. Controlled by the benevolent hand of some unseen force. The most beautiful Spring I’ve ever witnessed.

But now, unexpectedly, the winter returns as I’m walking into work and there are the dogwoods. Just there. Blooming a brilliant white and pink on this frozen day. Surreal flowers suspended on the frozen sunshine.

“It’s a dogwood winter? they whisper over coffee at work. The newspapers make it official. We’re in the maw of a Dogwood Winter.

Winter drives the sap back into the roots and erases the beauty from the land. Now, the winter fades. Retreats. Leaving in its wake a ruined land, like Sherman’s march on Chattanooga.

The blooms wilt and die and now the leaves turn brown and collapse into the earth. Death and dying. And what of the trees, I wonder. Will they grow new leaves? Will they bloom again?

The Dogwood Winter has killed the spring. Gradually I realize that the trees will not bloom again. Not this year. The flowers and the beauty of Spring are gone. The bloom is off the rose. Nothing is left. Nothing but death and dying and the decay of Fall.

And I think about this. I think about how one day, we’re standing in the sunshine eating fried pies and thinking how grand to be alive before the painted hardwood forests of Southern Middle Tennessee in April. And then, the next, we’re sifting through the ruins of Spring. Blowing the helicopter seeds aloft as the freezer-burned trees struggle to survive.

I had imagined that a Dogwood Winter would be romantic. But a Dogwood Winter is debilitation. Down-right evil. A Dogwood Winter defiles the beauty of the Spring. Destroys that which we find most inspiring. As a child kills a songbird with an air rifle.

I walk very slowly into work now, on this cloudy day. And I think about this. I think about how I am like the Dogwood Winter. How I have deliberately maligned and damaged those that cared the most about me. How I’ve burned those that imagined I might be a decent person, as the frost burned the trees.

I think about how I’ve disappointed those closest to me. How I’ve drawn from the beauty of this land, as one draws water from a well. I think about this. And I hate that part of me. I hate that part of me that wants to destroy the beauty in those that care the most for me. I hate that part.

I think about the karmic maelstrom that must be out there, looming just beyond the horizon. I think about Sunshine and Traci and my stalkers back in the hills and I wonder if I can change. I wonder if it’s too late. For them. For me. I hate that part of me that wants to hurt other people. I hope that I can change that part. I hope that it isn’t too late.

I’ve caused a lot of pain. No doubt that I’ve hurt Sunshine the most. And for that I am sorry. Truly sorry.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 20, 2007 at 8:04 PM

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