Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lessons learned

A few days ago, I was talking with someone I've known since before starting My Minnesota. When I mentioned that this publication had almost reached its one year anniversary, he asked what I had learned during that year. I though for a moment or two (or three) before responding "I've learned to pay attention to what's going on around me." I should have added that I've learned to be much more appreciative of the beauty and variety in my Minnesota.

black cherry tree and conifers
black cherry tree and conifers   © harrington

Up until recently, if you had asked me to name the state tree, I would have proudly responded with certainty "white pine." I would, with even more certainty, have been wrong. The Minnesota state tree is the red pine, also known as the Norway pine. Maybe if Minnesota had designated a state tree before most of its forests were logged, the white pine might have been selected. Some of the specific lessons learned are that there are several black cherry trees in the area; we've started to distinguish between the red and the white oaks; and we're sorting out whether the local pines are red, or white, or some of each. We're also learning to appreciate small victories and the beauty of sunrises. Jane Kenyon understands that small victories and happiness are linked.

Autumn's red sunrise
Autumn sunrise                 © harrington

Happiness

By Jane Kenyon 

There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.

No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.

It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basketmaker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
                     It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.

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