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The purple coneflowers have long since given up their blooms, all except this solitary lady, a firecracker of color in a blanket of fallen leaves. I transplanted her and some others a month ago with great emotional fanfare, releasing them from pots where they’d been captive for three years. I put them in the ground on my new property, just outside the dwelling I’m preparing for myself.

Imagine my delight when, shortly after planting, this one stood straight up, announcing herself with pink petals and orange center. Each time I visit I am surprised at this tiny oasis of color in a landscape of quiet tans and browns. Surely, I’ve thought, the frosty nights would stop her show.

But, no. Three weeks, now, and here she is today, still standing, an unlikely protester going against the odds. The gutsy pink and spikey orange give me a boost of spiritual muscle, a little something to help keep me going as I struggle through the challenges of this season of my life.


Late in January the robins swooped in and lifted the veil of winter, even as the frost still stepped on the brown grass and the skies were smeared with charcoal. On a chilly day in early March, the sky sang one brilliant blue note all day long and the wild cherry tree wore petals and perfume. The robins, still visiting in droves, attached themselves for minutes at a time to the cherry limbs and gave me time to wonder what they saw and smelled. How different was their world from mine?

Something worn and raw in me looked up, wanting something I couldn’t define. Now, I stare at the image captured by my hungry camera and eye my unrest. It’d be too easy to say I’d like to know what it’s like to fly. It’s not the flying I crave. It’s the courage to reach inside myself and find my bird-mind, the self in me that knows, instinctually, where to go, what to do. No this-ing and that-ing. No if-ing and what-if-ing. Just taking in, like breath, moving on, like breath, making life.

Ellen Hamilton