With a mostly warm winter and plenty of April showers, here at the Sanctuary there is lots of green (and other) life racing ahead into Spring. In addition to new life, the scattered, outward energy of Spring also brings busy, crowded, and uncomfortable visitations from botanical and entomological guests.
As I am adapting to wearing short sleeves and sunscreen, nature often reminds me of my physical and mental reactions to discomfort.A few non-human discomforts trigger my reactions, like ticks, pollen, and poison ivy. While taking a customer on a tour recently, she remarked, “My sister says poison ivy is friendly to you, if you’re friendly to it.” While it may be true that avoiding it will keep you out of a painful itch, it also means letting the vine grow stronger, unchecked. Eventually, someone will get the rash, and I have made my peace with that probability.
Pollen on the other hand, is difficult for me, even with allergy medications. For my entire adult life, various tree pollens have succeeded every year in causing a physical reaction. Now that I work outdoors, avoidance is not a plausible choice for me and despite the discomfort, I have actually found through my own observations that part of taking care of myself is simply going to have to be managing my allergies. Even though the pollen is agitating, I am grateful for the beautiful tree flowers in Spring and for the lives of the trees which depend on that pollen for their reproduction.
And then, there are ticks. They are challenging to detect and to remove. They spread some pretty wicked diseases, and I don’t know any humans or pets who like them. I have heard many people say that they don’t understand why God or nature had to give us ticks, and yet, I think I have some understanding of these little parasites in the big picture: nature is all about balance and ticks are part of what keeps populations in check. In fact, with a little knowledge, they are not so difficult to manage in small scale and I would be somewhat concerned about what might take their place were humans to eradicate them.
Which brings me back to the work to be done at the Sanctuary. I am blessed with the opportunity to work within the cycles of living and dying in many very direct ways. In my somewhat raw exposure, I am finding that all of the discomforts and challenges give me an even greater appreciation for the backdrop of life that is happening all around me. I have the opportunity to observe all of my reactions and if I choose to stay with them and learn from them, rather than avoid or fight against them, I am able to be more clear and at peace with the work that is before me. When I plant a tree in Spring, I know that I am supporting something greater than myself and something worth occasional discomforts.