At the speed of a cranefly

My day was saved by this leaf.

Perfect day for a hike: sunshine and near 70 degrees. But I couldn’t bear the thought of hiking.

Even after sleeping nearly 12 hours, I got worn out from just heating and eating lunch, taking a shower and distributing leftover cornbread to the birds. No energy left for reading, much less trudging through the woods.

I collapsed on the couch, disgruntled. Although by now I know this is just a normal dip in my recovery path, I still find it hard to accept.

Eventually I fell into a nap, but woke up unrefreshed. It was nearly 3:30.

Tom was going for a hike, and I said, “OK, I can at least walk a mile around the playfield.”

I drove slowly, still groggy. I forced myself to walk that mile. But – my time was significantly shorter than my previous playfield walk 10 days ago. I’m walking faster.

Encouraged, I decided to add on a short hike through the woods.

That’s when I truly woke up – at nearly 5 p.m. Because I saw the leaf.

A familiar December sight: the crinkly, dark-veined leaves of the cranefly orchid.

This plant is one of the few which puts out blossoms long after the leaves have died. I know that I will keep seeing these leaves into the spring, and then they’ll disappear.

But if I come back to that spot next August, I’ll see delicate pink blossoms arrayed on a foot-high stem.

Wikimedia commons
Wikimedia commons

As I smiled at the leaf and took its photo, I imagined the seasons changing around it, the leaf dying and disappearing, the stem rising, and the flowers blooming.

And with each month of each season, my steps quicker and more assured, my brain a little clearer.

I don’t like waiting. But nature has taught me a particular kind of certainty in the seasons.

It isn’t patience. It’s faith.

Sure as a cranefly orchid blooms, next August will see me hiking the full length of the trail at full speed.

Today’s penny is a 2013, the year I finally put leaf and blossom together to identify a cranefly orchid.



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