On this lovely sunny day, the incredible beauty of the land fills me with awe.
I’m huffing and puffing like an old plough horse by the time I reach the crest of the hill. Shucking my heavy backpack as quickly as I can, I flake out in the shade of a huge maple tree until my breathing returns to normal. The soothing sound of leaves rustling in the summer breeze above my head caresses my city-frayed nerves, and in no time at all I have revived.
After a short rest and a cold drink, I get to my feet and check out the view that prompted me to climb to the top of this hill in the first place. Adjusting my binoculars as I gaze across the lush countryside on this lovely sunny day, the incredible beauty of the land fills me with awe. In the distance I spy two stately swans gliding serenely on a small lake that’s sparkling like tinsel in the sun. The tall grass and the hanging branches of weeping willows surrounding the lake are waving gently in the breeze.
Just beyond the lake I see a stand of pine trees soaring like green steeples toward the azure heavens. Puffy white clouds are strewn all over the sky like giant dandelion plumes in the wind. Turning around to the other side of the hill, I sweep my glasses over fields of ripening corn, which will soon be ready for harvesting. A stone’s throw from the cornfield, I see a small frame church, gleaming in its coat of fresh white paint. Directly behind the church there is a cedar-fenced graveyard that, like a shadow in the sun, reminds me that the brightest day is followed by the dark of night.
Standing there all alone on that scenic hilltop surrounded by nature in all its summer finery, my joy is tinged with sadness as I contemplate the sheer mystery of it all. As I ponder the power behind the miraculous glory of nature, I experience the same melancholy ache that comes over me every time I behold a rainbow in a rain-washed northern sky; and the sense of my own mortality as I watch it slowly fade away.
Soon this lush green countryside will be transformed into the blazing splendour of an Ontario autumn. And after the colours fade, the land will slumber in the warmth of winter’s cloak of pristine white. Then, following its long winter sleep, spring will return, bringing it all back to life once more over every hill and dale, thus, starting the whole wondrous cycle all over again. The verdant beauty of this summer season glowing all around reminds me of an old adage: “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.” As I stand there, breathing the pristine air and listening to the distant drone of a small plane, out of nowhere a poem composes itself in my mind:
The scorching heat of summer and the blinding winter snow
The reasons for the seasons I guess I’ll never know
The blazing hues of autumn and the springtime newly born
I wonder if the answers lie in that graveyard in the corn.
William Bedford lives in Toronto.