Back in May I had wanted to write an essay on time travel. It was an idea that fermented while traveling to Vienna and Spain in April. Before leaving I was strangely obsessed with the fact that I would be missing the redbud bloom (Cercis canadensis) here at Halcyon, and all of Rockbridge County for that matter. I wasn’t going to skip the trip because of this, but daily, weekly and seasonal changes here are at once grounding and freeing to me, and I was lamenting missing any of it in a big way.
Well, as luck, or phenology, would have it, I got to see redbuds in bloom on our way to the Roanoke airport. Again in Madrid, and yet again on the drive home from Washington D.C. three weeks later! I felt silly getting so wrapped up in my redbud loss, and then getting to see them over and over for a month. Out of that came an idea for an essay on time travel as a way to replace lost time. That essay never materialized….or maybe this is the abstract. At any rate, now I have been pondering the notion of teleporting.
When I was eight, I read a book that planted a yearning to live in Montana. I first visited Montana in 1992 and the yearning was rekindled, but life’s trajectories were not heading west it seemed. When we bought the house here at Halcyon, Chris and I joked that it was our Montana. Coyotes would have to suffice for the wolves I wanted to meet. Here on the property, everything was mowed. There were views of Jump Mountain, House Mountains and Hogback. There were a few large, hundred year-old trees. It represented a space of our own to grow and dream. A mini-Montana.
Dreams change however as we wander down new paths in life, and Virginia cannot mimic Montana without a lot of mowing (and a dryer climate). While exploring just last week I realized something. Halcyon looks much more like New Zealand these days than Montana. It was as if I’d teleported there suddenly when I took a good look at all the biomass here, all the layers and shades of green. Suddenly of course, is actually 18 years of living here, mowing less, planting more and letting many trees grow where they germinated. Year after year of less mowing and more accepting has changed Halcyon as much as Halcyon has changed us. We’re symbiotic.
At the pond, watching dragonflies and snapping turtles, I can teleport to a prehistoric time. It helps to walk past the horsetail (Equisetum hyemale) on my way. A plant descended from the towering plants of the Devonian period. In an overgrown weedy patch full of vines climbing trees, birdsong and insects, I can teleport to New Zealand where, in 2017, I marveled at all the life growing on just one tree amidst a forest of many trees with exotic ferns and a diverse array of shapes and green. And at the top of a hill where we cleared a new path, we can still find a view of our iconic House Mountains, letting me ponder the vastness of Montana skies.
I don’t have a yearning to live in Montana anymore or New Zealand. Both are lovely places to visit. But I am grounded here, and able to time travel or teleport if I need to.
Below are two sets of before and after photos.