by Neal Lemery
I often forget about the small miracles in my life until the world of nature gently reminds me with a new discovery, or a new awareness of something rather ordinary in my world.
The other day, we were walking on the familiar trails of the Kilchis Point Reserve, next to Tillamook Bay, taking in the late summer peace and beauty of land that a century ago was a busy mill site and heavily logged over. Today, large spruce and young cedars, and a rich understory of plants filled with birdlife and native plants offers a welcome respite to the hectic summer traffic of the Oregon Coast in the height of tourist season.
It was all familiar to me, the plants, the birds, the smells of the dry summer in the woods as I walked along, unaware, not really living in the moment. That is, until something new and strange appeared at my feet, an unusual fungi at the edge of the path, frothy and lacy. My hiking companions spotted it first, calling out for me to pay attention to this new addition to the area’s botanical richness. Its beige tones and intricate structure almost didn’t catch my eye, yet it is an amazing and wondrous delight, stopping me midstride.
Coral fungi was its name, according to a friend with great botanical expertise and one of the stewards of the Reserve. Apparently it has emerged in mid August the last several years in these parts of the woods. It is native to the coast, but obviously still quite rare. But, fungi emerging in the middle of the dry season? I think it is a miracle.
My awakening to the miracles around me continued, as I found myself at a Master Gardeners workshop on propagation. Our small group gathered around our fellow gardeners, who happily shared their wisdom in the creation of new plants. Buckets of cuttings from their gardens, a bucket of a light soil mix, pots and containers, and magic powder in the form of rooting hormone gained our attention.
With a few snips of our pruning shears and scissors, a dusting of rooting hormone powder, and a gentle insertion into the dirt, we started the process. A little mist from a spray bottle, a plastic bag, and the gift of time promised to provide us with a wide range of new plants to grace our gardens and add to the plants for next spring’s Master Gardener plant sale.
The rooting hormone is magic personified. In essence, it is powdered willow bark, the plain and generally uninspiring scrubby willow becoming the catalyst that creates new life and allows us to turn a twig into a new plant.
I need to pay attention to these new creations in the next few months, but we’ve taken the steps needed to bring new life and new beauty to the world. Again, a miracle right in front of our eyes, requiring but a small effort to enrich our lives and the world around us, allowing us to be the bringers of life into the world.
Small miracles are all around us, in the bees enjoying the flowers grown from a seed packet that I’d haphazardly strewn in an untended corner of the yard, in the swallows soaring above the deck, and the turkey vultures, hawks, and the occasional eagle, flying their air patrols over the neighborhood, inspiring us to take flight and travel the world, to see things from a new perspective.
Another miracle comes when the latest descendant of Grandma’s lilac bush blooms, after just barely hanging on for five years. We thought it was a goner, until one year, it decides to take off, producing a riot of vibrant purple and putting on a growth spurt. Now it is the centerpiece of that flowerbed’s spring show. Snippets of lilac twigs made it into my propagation project, with my hope of continuing the legacy.
Just when I think I’ve reached my quota of miracles for the week, the rather ordinary sky of a summer’s day suddenly turns into a carnival of brilliant oranges, reds, and yellows fading to magenta and vermillion as evening comes, nature’s way of telling me that the real shows in life don’t come from civilization.
“The fact that I can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another’s, smile at someone and receive a smile in return, are to me continual spiritual exercises.” Leo Buscaglia
All I have to do is open my eyes and take notice, taking the time from all the human busyness of modern life and pay attention. Miracles are all around me.