By Amanda Cleary Eastep
I just barely remember my first walk in the woods. My grandmother took me. Maybe it was in the patch of forest across the street from her square little house with the wringer washer and the beagle who gobbled up cicadas.
I have a memory of mayapples, their palm-like leaves popped like fairy umbrellas and every part of them full of poison.
I was just telling my husband how odd it is to not have one event on my calendar to look ahead to, to plan for. Not a writers’ conference or cookout or teeth cleaning.
It’s somewhat freeing. But also like hiking off-trail for too long.
The past weeks, the spring wildflowers have been my markers.
The trout lily’s nodding head and the spring beauty’s striped petals and spiky leaves were the first. Then the violets and the hepatica.
And the mayapple. I spied only one on a warm April day, its closed umbrella, pushing up through dead leaves and mud.
Later, a few more had emerged, leaves drooping and beginning to unfurl.
And now, colonies of them have sprung open at the foot of the barely-budded trees.
I looked forward to my next hike and my next.
Especially when my daughters could witness with me how God keeps time, how he measures our days with tiny, miraculous events.
I’ve trampled some under my boot. You can easily miss them.
It’s better if you get down on our knees and look where my grandmother would have pointed…
…there…under the green umbrella of the mayapple. You’d see the solitary white flower that blooms where the stem splits. It dies quickly.
By June, a single fruit will grow in its place…a small, lemon-shaped thing. It’s highly toxic. It could kill you. Unless you wait till July, when the flesh is ripe, and only eat a bit…
Thank you to Jody Collins for inviting me to talk about RITUALS & RHYTHMS for #honestwritingparty, hosted [on Instagram] by @jody_lee_collins, @sarahjacksonpanther, @definitelysometimes, @thehealinghope, @moriah_chastney, and @katienickersonhealth.