I love seasonal changes. Amazingly every aspect of nature adheres to the rules of the season and sheds leaves or produces new buds timeously. Even as a child I enjoyed trudging through piles of crunchy brown and yellow leaves when autumn came knocking on the door. During September, my birth month, the appearance of the first blossoms always signals the arrival of new growth, new green shoots and the promise of fresh new beginnings. Last week as I made my way to work in the early morning I couldn’t help noticing a huge pile of curled dry leaves that had floated on to the pavement right on cue with the crisp temperatures that denoted an imminent new season. The bright rays of sunshine that filtered through the almost naked trees added certain warmth to the cooler start to the day.
In March last year I was privileged to accompany a group of seniors to the Magoebaskloof area and to pay a visit to the ‘Lightning Tree’ at Kings Walden Gardens. This majestic tree towers confidently over the whole Limpopo valley and the impressive Drakensburg Mountains and is a stark reminder to visitors that once again, nature is a force to be reckoned with.
‘In the 1930s a beautiful young woman stood spellbound at these same mountain views and said to the man beside her, “I never want to leave”. He was the owner of the land and the view. “Marry me”, he replied, “and you will never have to.” Elsie Tooley did just that – and went on to create the original Kings Walden Garden.
Many years later, on the night Elsie Tooley died, lightning struck the giant blue gum tree from under which she had first been seduced by the glorious view. It still stands today, bone white and dramatic, a symbol of Kings Walden’s magical romantic spirit and history. The lightning tree is much admired and photographed, and is featured in Thomas Packenham’s book Remarkable Trees of the World.’*
This giant blue gum tree’s season was changed for good and remains naked and proud for the entire world to see.
This tree has impressed me since I made its acquaintance last year and got me thinking about my present seasonal changes. My summer came to a momentary halt in February this year with a diagnosis that has opened my eyes to certain changes, but also to new prospects and gracious new beginnings. Like the ’Lightning Tree’ a potentially dangerous situation has stripped me and my family of some of our foliage….. But thankfully our fresh new leaves will return in due season and our lives will return to a new normality.
Mercifully by Grace, I am able to stand tall, like my favourite tree, momentarily exposed to a season of unpleasant medical treatments and discomforts, to eventually blossom in a brand new season at an appointed time.
I am held together during this season by the extreme love and support of family and friends and I am eternally grateful that Grace allows me to put one step in front of the other, even when my own strength and emotions fails me……
Until next time…..