Look… look! Can you see them from my low-quality cell phone photo? There are now tiny red buds, beginning to open, swaying on the tips of nearly every tree out here. It happened overnight. It was the reward for a good soaking.
Last post, I signed off in the tent awaiting a wave of overnight thunderstorms, after two days of very hot hiking. The storms arrived, breaking the heat wave in typical Southeastern dramatic fashion. Our tent performed valiantly, keeping us mostly dry when the wind changed direction in the wee hours. I didn’t sleep until the storms finished, but reckoned there’s some value in lying down with a serene state of mind. I observed the storms passing overhead. Even a faraway flash of lightning is the most brilliant blaze imaginable in an otherwise black universe.
The next morning, after a few hours of sleep during quieter rains, we broke camp in record time. Rain makes for quick packing. We had thought of everything the previous night… we’d even dug our morning latrine holes pre-rain. (TMI? Sorry.) Oh wait… we didn’t think of quite everything. We’d left a toiletry bag on the ground overnight. After brushing my teeth, I discovered a slimy gray slug taking refuge in my toothbrush holder. Yum!
We hiked in the rain for about three hours. They were more pleasant than you’d imagine. Songbirds sang contentedly. The mist lifted and fell again. And it was not freezing rain. Then we hiked in fog for a few hours. And then, in the early afternoon, the sun burst through the swiftly-moving clouds. The sky turned the cleanest, kindest blue, and the world was reborn. The air was fresh and temperate. It was excellent weather for walking, sitting around between bouts of walking, and walking some more. And those buds! They were there, and now no matter what cold weather may come, they are not withdrawing. They will soon burst into leaf, and we will watch it happen day by day. Birth and death, spring and fall, the cycles inevitable.
We passed another milestone, too: we are now in Virginia! Virginia, as we all know, is for lovers. And so is spring.