On Friday, we promised the younger gardener-in-residence that we would take a trip up to Graveyard Fields on the Blue Ridge Parkway and pick blueberries. Hiking to pick mountain berries is a tradition for many families in our area, and now that the word is out, the competition can be stiff on weekends. We loaded up in the car hoping that on a Friday around 5pm that crowds would be on their way home.
In spite of leaving a sunny homestead, we could see the dark skies hovering above the mountains where we were headed. We decided we’d take a chance, a little rain never hurt anyone, and continued our drive on the Parkway up toward Mt. Pisgah.
Temps dropped, clouds rose, and rain fell, but both gardeners were determined to come home with a bag of berries. When we arrived at the parking lot, we could barely see the four other cars in the lot, but with enthusiasm and homemade trashbag ponchos (it’s amazing what you can find in our car), the two gardeners, my husband and I took off down the trail.
If you’ve never been to Graveyard Fields, you have a short walk on a paved trail down to the river. It winds among overgrown laurel and rhododendron, and in the fog, we felt like we were in a fairy tale forest. The girls giggled with anticipation as they skipped and ran down the path. There’s something to be said about Nature’s capacity to transform tween- and teenage girls into children filled wonder.
As we approached our final descent, a set of stairs leading to the bridge across the river, I noticed a bit of bright turquoise writing on the railing. “Be Love” was all it said. Given what our global and local communities have experienced in 2020, I couldn’t help but take a photo and let the phrase settle into my soul.
Our rainy day hike resulted in berries and smiles, exploration and discovery. We headed home with wet hair but full hearts.
After the children left on Saturday, I settled into a day of gardening and weeding. I noticed how the zinnias and black-eyed susans had grown extensively with all the sun and rain we’d had in the previous week. The zinnias now tower above my head with more blooms than I know what to do with. Would I end up mulching half of them like the neglected flowers last summer?
And then the message came back to me – be love. Be love. I hurried to my studio and pulled out some wooden pieces I’d bought to make signs. I grabbed the brightest colors of paint and created just what I needed for my self-care project.
Afterwards, I grabbed the clippers and began gathering small bundles of flowers. Tying them together with ribbon I’d be saving for a “special occasion,” I marveled at the beauty and diversity of each bouquet. It is hard to imagine a world without flowers and joy.
With my supplies in my arms, I headed down to the mailbox, screwed up the signs and hung the metal bucket. My heart was full.
As I settled onto the front steps for some iced tea, the Spirit, in all her wisdom, offered me an “aha” moment.
All these years, my mantra has been “just be” as a way of reminding myself to slow down, be present, and live an intentional life. Perhaps now, especially now, it’s time to take that Just Be one step farther –
Just Be . . .Love
Just Be. . .Compassion
Just Be. . .Justice
Just Be. . .A Living Prayer
It’s not that I haven’t tried to live my life as such, it’s just that the small reminder at Graveyard Fields inspired and reminded me not to give up. Not to be overwhelmed by what the world has become. Not to be intimidated by my age. Not to lose that sense of wonder and hope.
And so, even though the zinnias and black-eyed susans may not be available all year long, my commitment is to keep that bucket full down by the mailbox, to be love in my little corner of this very big world. And if you’re ever in the neighborhood of our little suburban farm, come on by. Who knows what you’ll find to take and share?!