My younger self always blasted down the path in a forced march, loving the gruel of the physical activity and cool breeze in my hair. My eyes were lifted up, always searching for the next challenge and pursuit. I was interested in the miles passed and calories burned. In short, I was interested in the moment and checking things off my lists in a hurry.
But as time hunches me over and begins to give me the rounded shoulders and head tilt of older age, and gravity has my once firm backside becoming less and less recognizable to me, I notice other deep-seeded skills ingrained in me from my mother finally bubbling up. I notice more things on my hikes, taking time to be observant and reflective. I recognize certain bird calls and seem to observe more animals on the trail. And while I always thought wildflowers were beautiful, I now have a more grounded respect for its fight to survive, with such a fleeting season and short window of time here on earth to shine.
I guess life has reminded me in some strange way how beautiful the small moments are. How precious the simple most basic joys of life must become in our struggle against the trials of life. I certainly have learned that our health, our livelihoods, and our good times can quickly turn on a dime. I seize the moments that aren’t promised to us with a little more frequency and gusto.
And as I grapple with aging and find myself becoming slower and rounder with time, less like a sports car and more like a station wagon, I at least take some small pride in being more and more like my mom and the elder women I looked up to in my life: patient, reflective, experienced, and knowledgeable.
So here’s to you mom. Here are some of the wonders of the forest floor we found this spring in Hoosier National Forest & Shawnee National Forest, like the Dutchman’s breeches that have the tell-tale look of a pair of pants, the Jack-in-the-Pulpit you taught me looks like a preacher on Sunday, and the trilliums with their deep burgundy flower and easily recognizable 3 leaves, which were the first wildflower I taught your grandson to identify.