Bee balm blossoms spread like fireworks. Their long stalks meander through porch slats, shade the verdant carpet of lithodora, and invade the gravely garden path. Poignant shadows, devoid of the vibrant red, shimmer on the gray porch boards, cracked from weathering.
Just the other day, churning storm clouds, which vibrated with more thunder-growls than lightning-strikes, brought a battering of rain. A bumblebee, its wings resting from flight, sat silently on the dry side of the porch post. The wind chimes were still, perhaps savoring nature's influx of percussion, which was as transfixing as Japanese fire drummers in an outdoor amphitheater.
Today, though, the sky is blue. But not just blue. It's the sort of blue upon which you can barely gaze and yet it calls to you. It's pure and unhazed by humidity. It's cheerful and tips over even the most dismal mood. And, it enhances everything: wisteria vine scrolls, browning delphinium flowers, even bee balm shadows.
Whether rainy or sunny, the allure of bee balm brings a pleasant visitor. I heard the hover first. Not the zingy bumble of a fuzzy bee. No. There's more intonation to it. The sound captures a primal chant, smooth and constant. I always hear it first. Then, eyes roving across the array, I catch the fluid flight of the hummingbird.
Such moments make life worthwhile. Amidst the waiting and the whirl-winding, we delight in stringing together the wonder we find. Sometimes we place such finds in a box - one that's worn and smooth with a slight creak in the opening - with a uniquely-shaped rock, a dried flower, a colorful shell, a black and white snapshot of people you always wished to know. We set them out in a strand over time, letting the sun and the rain, the night and the closeness settle in, so that no two are alike. And as you admire your own box of memories, take a moment to ponder the beauty in those of others, too. Maybe it will slow your quick words, pop a smile where indifference usually looms, and invite you to see beauty where you expected not to see it.
SENK is an artist and writer in the Shenandoah Valley. The blog, 52 Weeks, is an ethical contemplation on the importance of choosing public school names that are not divisive within a community. Each post is based on over eight years of research by the author. 52 Weeks is a compassionate appeal to community and school board members to not revert to the names of Confederate leaders for Shenandoah County, Va, public schools.
47 / Maintaining Public Peace
46 / Brown v. Board
45 / Rebuilding a Pro-Confederate South
44 / An Out-of-area Education
43 / Where's the 'Common Sense Consideration'?
42 / Education Without Heart
41 / Self-Preservation
40 / Free Public Schools
39 / The Mask of Defiance
38 / The Golden Door of Freedom
37 / Prejudicial to our Race
36 / Are We Compassionate?
35 / Community
34 / Need for Radical Change
33 / Bitter Prejudice
32 / Fear of 'Negro Equality'
31 / Rachel, Lashed to Death
30 / The Whim of the Court: A Look at Jacob, Stacy, Lett; March & Peter; Jeffrey & Peter
29 / Ben, Tom, Ned, Clary, & two men from the furnace
28 / The Loss of Fortune
27 / James Scott, A Free Man
26 / The Unremembered, The Unheard
25 / The American Cause
24 / Tithables for the County & Parish
23 / Satisfactory Proof of Being Free
22 / Building Community Takes Trust
21 / Jacob's Case
20 / Whose Control?
19 / Racial Classifications
18 / The Cost of Freedom in 1840
17 / Sale of Children
16 / Bequeathal of Future Increase
15 / The First Annual
14 / From a Descendant of a CSA Soldier
13 / True Americanism
12 / Slavery. A Hot Topic.
11 / Real Character
10 / Real Apologies
9 / Freedom from Fear
8 / 250 Years
7 / The Courage of Christ
6 / Whose Narratives?
5 / The 13th Amendment
4 / Symbolic Act of Justice
3 / Giving Thanks
2 / Confederate Congress
1 / Veteran's Day