This has been an unusually wet winter. I cannot tell you how many times I have looked at the weather app on my iPhone and the forecast has been cloudy or rainy for all 10 days in the forecast. Oh, we have had a pretty day here and there, but no long stretches of sunshine and cloudless skies. Until now. And now that we are finally having pretty days with warm weather and lots of sunshine, I find myself working the graveyard shift from midnight to 7:00 AM. I work in the healthcare IT industry and I am very fortunate to be able to work from home. I honestly cannot remember the last time I went into the office. Right now, we are in the midst of a very large project that requires around the clock support for our healthcare providers. It has been a rather difficult adjustment for me too. I have no problem staying up and staying focused. Quite the opposite. I have trouble going to sleep and staying asleep for more than 4 hours. Since this project started, I shower and go to bed at the end of my shift, and I am usually asleep by 7:30 am or 8:00 am. But every day, without fail, I wake up sometime between 11:00 am and noon. Curiously enough, I have found that 3 to 4 hours of sleep immediately after my shift and then 2 to 3 hours of sleep before my shift have been enough to keep me going. But I digress, so let me return to the weather. Tomorrow is my brother’s birthday, so I had to run out and buy him a card and a gift. Since I started these odd hours, I have only ventured out to feed and water my chickens in the morning and to go to the gym for a quick workout in the evening. But today, I had to go shopping so I ventured out, initially heading west to Seneca, and then changing my mind mid-course and turning around and heading east to Easley. I ended up going to Academy Sports. My brother, a teacher, retires this year and he has purchased a bass boat to while away his hours in retirement. I intend to while away a few hours with him myself. Anyhow, I went to Academy Sports and got some things for his boat that he did not have.
As I was driving along highway 123, I noticed two things: The litter along the highway is really piling up and the Bradford pear trees are blooming. The litter is related to the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the schedules of prison work crews that keep our roads clean. I say give them a mask and send them back out there, but that is another story. The Bradford pears are the subject of this post and what I want to talk about. I remember when those trees became popular. Every house either had them in their yard or lining their driveway. They were beautifully shaped trees with pretty leaves in the summer and thousands of brilliant white blossoms in the spring. However, down through the years they have lost their popularity for several reasons. Although the blossoms are pretty, they have a horrible aroma and although the trees were very uniform in shape, they were also very prone to breaking in ice and wind storms. Lastly, the trees are an invasive species that will spread to neighboring fields and completely take over if left unchecked.
So, why am I writing about Bradford pear trees? Because every time I see them blooming it takes me back to March 19, 1991 – the day our first child was born. We had parked our car in the parking lot at Easley Baptist Hospital and I remember the day was sunny, the sky was a deep, rich, cloudless blue, and I remember pausing for just a second to admire the striking contrast of the white Bradford pear blossoms against that impossibly blue sky. It was a moment in time that is forever etched into my memory and when I see a Bradford pear tree blooming, I recall that particular moment and all the excitement and wonderful emotions I was experiencing as I gazed up at that tree. It is funny how things can trigger a memory. Maybe the smell of play dough or finger paint calls up some fond childhood memory in elementary school. Maybe a curtain stirring in the breeze or clothes hanging on a line calls up some pleasant memory of home. Maybe a song on the radio calls up a romantic evening with your husband or wife, or maybe even a long lost sweetheart from your past. These occurrences are like mini time machines.
So why is this post about something as common and mundane as Bradford pear trees? When I see them blooming, they lift my spirits and renew my hope for good things in the coming year. They cause me to pause and reflect on the good fortunes of the past and to look eagerly forward to the good fortunes of the future. They take me to an “in-between time” where the memories that lay behind are sweet and the dreams that lay before me are even sweeter. They fill me with an unexplainable happiness and, well… they make me smile.
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” ~ Ghandhi