Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Time of Dogwood

The first dogwood blooms of the season were brought into the village during the last week of April. At the time, we were having unseasonably cold weather and continuing snowfalls on a daily basis. There was a noticeable longing for spring.

Having learned from them that the dogwood trees had started to bloom, Carey Burkett, Holden's Head Housekeeper, asked those working in the woods outside the village and down toward the lake to bring back some branches of dogwood. She arranged the branches in a large vase and put it atop the "island" in the dining hall.

As she completed the arrangement and as we talked about dogwood, she shared with me the information that there was a certain place on the trail to Domke Lake where dogwood trees were plentiful. She said, in fact, that the forest at that particular spot was filled with dogwood.

There the trail wound up and through the dogwood trees and eventually the hiker would be above the trees and looking down on them. It so happens that the lower limbs of the dogwood tree extend outward from the trunk in a position generally horizontal to the ground with the flowers attached to the upper part of the branch. Thus, from above and looking down on them, the flowers appear to float in the air as opposed to looking as if they were attached to the branch of any given tree.

And it is here that I need to point out that the flowers of the dogwood in the forests of the Northwest are, to my way of thinking, huge. I am accustomed to dogwood flowers that are about the size of a half dollar, if any of you even remember the size of a half dollar. The flowers in these woods are the size of saucers. And the large size makes them all the more noticeable. Imagine it.

Carey told me that a walk through those woods at the time the dogwood trees were in bloom was a walk to remember always. A few days later, she would, in fact, try to repeat that experience of her earlier years at Holden by taking a hike up the Domke Trail. She discovered that the place on trail where the dogwood had once grown so profusely had been a part of the Domke fire during the summer of '07 and had been destroyed.

She is left with only the memory of what once had been.

Others have long-standing memories of that same place on the Domke Trail. At about the same time, within the same decade, anyway, that Carey was hiking the trail, Elaine Harrison was doing the same. She remembers the dogwood along the trail in a completely unique way.

She writes: "My experience of them is from a time we camped at Domke. It began to rain in the night. First we attempted to sleep under a picnic table. Then we decided to walk down to the lake to stay in the bus parked there for weather incidents. There was no A-frame as yet.

As we walked, the light of the moon shone off the dogwood flowers. It was enchanting. They seemed to light our way. It is not a fearsome trail, but in the middle of the night for three city kids, it was comforting to have the light of the dogwood flowers. It felt like all the eyes of the forest were watching over our safety.

It was lovely and is lovely to remember."



Ang said...

Wanda I was inspired by this and wrote this poem...

Dogwood Blossoms
They clung to the branches
Like hope
Reflecting light from the cosmos
On a darkened path
Even on a cloudy night
Their petal white fingers spread
From the golden center
In a gesture of openness
And served as guides
Along the path towards shelter

Angela Mietzke

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