Letter from Birdland: It's fun to visit The Enchanted Grove

In Birdland, we've been blessed with mild weather this week. Today, Michael and I biked over to Lodge Park. It has a lovely, wooded road and trails through the forest.

Our favorite walk is the Pine Tree Trail, but we call it The Enchanted Grove. It is a trail through an old pine plantation left to grow wild and tall, and as the trail winds through the trees, about 30 feet in, you suddenly see the trees are planted in rows. Something about the mix of wildness and civility strikes me as majestic. The height of the trees leading into orderly rows makes me feel like I am going somewhere magnificent. I am, with my new husband at my side.

Before we left, we lured Ursula into the house and told her goodbye. Our dog would have loved to run along beside us, but we were going too far for her, and our route would take us on Old 47, too busy for a little black dog.

We pulled the bikes out of the garage and turned west. The fields were busy with friends and neighbors. We waved to Jim and Sean, who were glad, I'm sure, to be in the fields. I was selfishly delighted at last week's rain that made the fields soggy on our wedding day, so they would come to the party. Seeing them today, though, reminded us of the patient work of people in our community.

We turned onto Old 47, where the cars and trucks clip along past us. We passed fields full of sheep and lambs and goats and kids. We stopped for a moment, straddling our bikes, to watch them gently grazing. One ewe looked up and returned our gaze as she quietly chewed. The others went about their business.

In the park, the gentle breezes brought us a faint scent of flowers and green, growing things. We breathed deeply and walked down by the river, which smells of mud. Last week's sudden storm at our wedding party has swelled the river.

Our wedding was such a blessing of friends and family. At the party afterward, our yard was filled with food and conversations and games and music. All week, the forecast was for heavy rain on Saturday, and everyone says it's good luck if it rains on your wedding day. We set up the party in the yard despite the forecast, and by afternoon, it was clear. Later, though, the sky in the west began to darken.

Our first musician (my nephew, Justin Rondn) was midway through his set when we saw the gathering clouds. I looked around to find some experts. I saw a sailor, a farmer, a lawyer and a poet.

"Think we'll get some weather?" I asked Jack, my new father-in-law.

He looked into the sky for a long moment. "It'll be all right," he said, decisively. But this man has sailed around the Horn of Africa, with 50-foot waves crashing around him — the second most dangerous place in the world. He has seen some weather.

Next I asked a lawyer, my father, who was already directing his grandson to unplug his electric equipment and move the party inside. He is wise in the ways of liability and responsibility.

I caught Jim looking out into the fields he was longing to plant.

"Do you think that storm will come here?" I asked.

He studied the sky, then pointed. "I believe it's moving north along that line, Mary." He is wise in the ways of the Midwest horizon.

Finally, I asked my friend, the poet, for his advice. He was photographing the advancing, darkening clouds. '"You stand there," he pointed. "I want a picture of you against the dark." He is wise in the ways of metaphor.

The storm advanced north, then changed directions and headed straight for us. The sky darkened, and rain spilled down. Just like that, many hands emptied tables, and we rolled them into the garage. The rain poured down, and my beautiful wedding clothes were drenched.

As we broke down the last table, a handful of us sheltered in the garage for a while, watching as a few of the cars put on headlights and drove away. The party continued inside, and we ran for the house and joined in. The second musician was starting her set when Michael and I were called away on an urgent photo shoot. The rain had turned gentle. The clouds had passed, and the sun shone through the drops.

"Hurry!" they said, and we all ran out into the east field. There, arching from the piney woods to the Benson timber was a perfect double rainbow.

We stood laughing, my new husband and I, in the gentle rain, with friends snapping photos all around. You can't have a rainbow without a storm. Tremendous luck, indeed!

Rain in beauty; shine in peace; blessed be.

Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. She is grateful for her family and community — and her own backyard. You can see photos and more of her writings at http://www.letterfrombirdland.blogspot.com. Hays can be reached at letterfrombirdland@gmail.com.

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