Finding beauty where you are planted

Our neighborhood is blessed with road construction at the moment. It’s not actually the road that’s being constructed — it’s a sidewalk that stretches from Hermon Village to Hermon High School.

While waiting not so patiently in a line of cars to get into my driveway so I can let out my dogs at lunchtime or waiting for the flag person to notice I need to get out of my driveway into traffic, I try to remind myself that when this is finished, it will be a much safer situation for my town’s pedestrians.

I have no desire for people to get injured while trying to get from Point A to Point B on our busy road. Senior citizens and high school students commonly walk in that area, going to the local stores or to attend events at the school.

That being said, the construction is a wicked inconvenience, not only for normal commuting purposes, but also because of the unusual mechanical noises that set my four Brittany dogs’ nerves on edge — therefore mine — and the dust that just seeps in through the pores of my old farmhouse and settles everywhere, in spite of my efforts at cleanliness.

Despite the dust and the incessant mud from all the rain we’ve had, I’ve thought a lot about planting lately. It is spring, after all.

I have nothing against brown. It can be a lovely color in the right circumstance. It’s just that I like to see other colors too.

I think life can be like that. We find ourselves surrounded by colors we would not choose, or circumstances we don’t want to be in.

We try to look past the dull brown film to see the lustre we know is there. We seek out the bright and shiny, or the cool and calming, shades that are invisible to us as background, or shades that are bold and vibrant, depending on our mood, our situation.

Widowhood can be like that too. It can shadow the life we seek to regain, or the life we are rebuilding from the rubble of our loss. It can form a dull brown film on our ability to shine. The film can be wiped away, but soon returns, just as the road dust floating in the air finds its way back onto floors and furniture of my old farmhouse.

But at some point, we hold our ground, take a stand, and demand to see life’s beauty.

I am in that place. I don’t want to be oblivious to my surroundings any more. I want to use my senses to experience life again. I want to know life’s details and appreciate them.

And that’s how I found myself on my front lawn the other night. I have antique apple trees and old lilac bushes in full bloom. I’m not sure when it happened because I’ve been so busy lately between work and dog events, I haven’t taken the time to watch its progression.

Shame on me.

But here it is. My favorite few days of the year when my trees and bushes are aflame in their pinks and whites and purples. It is fleeting, intense and totally intoxicating.

As I look at my old trees and see the gorgeous blossoms their branches extend out for my inspection, I realize how much these plants have experienced. From the functioning farm of many years ago, to a thriving modern town, these trees and bushes have lived through incredible environmental and physical changes around them.

They not only still live, but they also thrive, as evidenced by the beautiful flowers they produce each spring and the fruit that comes later.

I take a few minutes and visit each tree, marveling at the scars inflicted by life, moss and lichen growing on old branches, and the fragile flowers and new growth that indicates hope for a future.

I think about all of the construction that has happened around these grand plants. How the road in front of them went from dirt to pavement to state highway to busy village, and how each year, they bloom faithfully, offer shelter to wildlife, and food in their fruit.

I think about my own ties to my home, the changes I have seen while living here, and my roots that have grown deeper over the nearly 35 years I have shared space with these trees.

I am not sure what my future holds, but I have, on some level, accepted it will be without my husband whose death has altered my life permanently.

And I pray that with acceptance, I will be more open to seeing the beauty that presents itself every day to me in my physical surroundings and in the people who touch my life.






Julie Harris

About Julie Harris

As a longtime employee of Bangor Daily News, I have served many roles over the years, but I now have a dream job as Community Editor. I live in Hermon with my four Brittany dogs: Sassy, Bullet, Thistle and Quincy, who keep me busy in various dog sports. I was widowed at age 51 when my husband, Jim, died of pancreatic cancer.