“Carole, have you seen the dogwood tree outside the dining room windows?” Keith asked one morning in late August. “You really should get a picture now before it changes.”

“It’s drizzling, and the light’s not that good,” I replied.

“If you wait until conditions are perfect, you’ll miss your chance.”

DogwoodAug2014I muttered to myself for a while then took out my camera and shot a few pictures including this one. No bad, I thought. And darned if Keith’s wasn’t right. That afternoon, sunlight returned but the red leaves were gone.

Last week’s post reached back with nostalgia tinted with gratitude and loss. Thoughts about the past can distract us from our enjoyment of the present and fool us into believing our future will never come. Nature tells us truth about the world. The cycle of life embraces loss as a means for renewal, like taking memories out of closets to remind us who we are and where we’ve been while making space for new, artful, more realistic and fitting suits of clothing.

In his commencement talk at Columbia University School of the Arts on May 21, 2014, New Yorker Magazine theater critic Hilton Als said, “I’ve never believed, not for one second, that art is created out of avoiding the world and it various realities. If you avoid that, you avoid life, which is your source material, you dishonor your ghosts in the sunlight…” referring to Truman Capote’s metaphor about the convergence of memory and reality.

As I gaze at the dogwood tree, a favorite perch for hummingbirds between trips to the feeder here at Vanaprastha, I wonder at the glorious colors of change. Soon the hummingbirds will be gone, as will the leaves, and other birds will feed upon the dogwood berries.

And Keith and I will have almost unobstructed views of the Rockfish Valley again this fall and many opportunities to enjoy the present time, together in the autumn of our lives.



  1. Dogwoods | Notes from Vanaprastha - […] oval red berries, ripen in October when the leaves color red, yellow or orange. (Click here and here for…

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