Nature’s Gold

What was Robert Frost talking about when he said, “Nature’s first green is gold”? I’ve always thought it was forsythia, but my wife thinks it’s willow twigs. What I’m surer of, however, is that Frost was much too gloomy. “Nothing gold can stay,” says Frost. So get over it and move on.

My problem with spring in New England is that each new phase seems spectacular when it comes but is succeeded by something that seems, impossibly, better yet.

When the forsythia breaks out in cascades of gold across the landscape, it’s a marvel, but then come the daffodils in their myriad varieties: gold trumpet in gold corona, gold trumpet in white corona, double corona, flecked and frilled and fabulous. But then come the lilacs: wow! Great soaring bushes full of blossom: lilac and burgundy and white. And barely are they established then along come the azaleas and rhododendrons.

Rhight now it’s rhododendron time and – as with the previous phases – I’m awestruck. What could be better? I’m reminded of our last visit to the Isle of Skye and our stay in a country hotel where I marveled at an embankment of rhododendrons fifty yards long and twenty to thirty feet high, beginning near the main road and ranging on back past the hotel. I believe there were at least eight different shades in a range from red through magenta to pink to say nothing of white and yellow. But they grow wild in Scotland and you get bored with them after awhile. Maybe I’ll be bored with them here by the time the peonies come along and make me forget them.

Have you thought that heaven might be boring with nothing but perfection day after day? Yes, but John Donne tells us that there “every minute is in the highest exaltation, as good as it can be, and yet superexalted and infinitely multiplied by every minute’s addition; every minute is infinitely better than ever it was before.” Like a New England spring.

Do you think God will run out of ideas? If so, it’s because you live in some season-less place like Texas or in New England and haven’t been paying attention.

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