Think About Why You Started, and Keep Going

Everyone has dreams. How many of your dreams have become reality?

Five years ago I started writing this blog. Initially, I wanted to encourage people to pursue their creativity. I started as the Poet on Blueberry Street on April 1, 2016. My first post was very short. I really didn’t know what I was doing or where this blog would take me.

So it goes with creativity. One step leads to another and before you know it five years have passed. I have published one hundred sixty-two entries since 2016. Some of you may have followed me since the beginning. We have shared the ups and downs of camping in Florida, adventures in gardening, and of course who could forget the pandemic?

Throughout it all I’ve weaved my love for poetry, reading, and writing. Today I looked back at some of my favorite poetry posts. In case you missed them, or would like to revisit, click on these links.

If Trees Could Talk and Other Poems (2017)

Poetry a Message in a Bottle (2018)

Fallen Leaves (2019)

Ode to the Spotted Bananas (2020)

I realize I am not a blogger who keeps a specific schedule. I tend to hit the keys when I feel inspired. Creativity cannot be forced, but it can be furthered by allowing ourselves to “be in the zone.” I am thankful for this opportunity to express myself without an editor looking over my shoulder.

In the process of writing this post I discovered a website called DayZero. I was surprised to learn the world’s most popular goals include writing a blog, losing weight, and writing a book. Interesting. How blessed I am to accomplish two of those goals. (Remember, I like to eat bread.)

Whatever your goals, I leave you with this quote from Darren Hardy.

“Starting is not most people’s problem. Staying, continuing, and finishing is.”

In the words of Buddy the Beagle…. never give up.

At home, reading Return to Blueberry Street to my favorite beagle.

Are We There Yet?

“Some threads of our social fabric have changed forever.”

Do you ever wonder what life might be like if Covid 19 had never happened? Unfortunately, we will never know. One year has been wiped out of our lives. As difficult as the year has been, we have established new habits. We’ve become accustomed to a stilted way of life. One which is less social, less free, and less risky.

Why have we chosen comfort and safety above everything else? What happened to the bold Americans who explored unknown territory? Why do we still hesitate to venture into public without our masks and wash our hands countless times a day?

One year ago I wrote a post entitled Lessons from a National Emergency. Last March the entire country was under a stay at home order to “slow the spread.” Over the past year Florida eased many restrictions regarding social distancing. Public schools opened, as did restaurants and hair salons. However, many churches, and community organizations continue to meet virtually. Museums, if open, insist upon scheduling appointments to accommodate visitors. Businesses maintain mask policies, and many employees still work from home.

I believe some threads of our social fabric have changed forever. Virtual communication is here to stay. We are different now. It is so much easier to meet with someone on a screen. Driving somewhere to interact with people involves too much effort. We feel uncomfortable without our masks, and wonder… “what if the vaccines we receive do not protect us from a deadly variant?”

When our children were young, we rented a small trailer and took a road trip from Columbus, Ohio to Yellowstone. Prior to the trip, we prepared a child friendly map of the U.S. for each of them. We drew our route on the map and highlighted all of our stops. When we were on the trip the children placed a star sticker on each stop we made. We hoped it might help them to see how far we still needed to go before we were “there.”

In a similar way, most Americans can’t wait for the day when the pandemic ends. We all want to be “there.” Back to a time when we could enjoy a play in a crowded theatre or attend an indoor concert. (without a mask) The slow car ride to normality drags on. We feel disappointed when we hear our government say, “Put another sticker on the map, kids. Busy yourself by looking out the window.” Like you, I am bored with the view from the back seat and continue to ask, “Are we there yet?”

Be Like A Tree

The truth is I’m a tree hugger. Whether I’m admiring the knobby knees of a bald cypress, or the limbs of a towering live oak, trees are my thing. I’ve shared scores of photographs on this blog and written many poems about trees.

During my four years of camping and tromping through the state parks of Florida, I’ve seen many species of trees. Most of the parks in northern and central Florida include forests of longleaf pine.

Young long leaf pines flourish in a field of grass at Goldhead Branch.

How can a pine tree have leaves?

The longleaf pine is really an evergreen conifer. Its name originated from the needlelike “leaves” which develop in bundles of three. These needles grow up to 18 inches long. Unlike the bald cypress tree, the longleaf pine does not lose its needles in winter, and is not classified as deciduous.

The longleaf pine has a single trunk which is covered in thick scaly bark.

How can fire be an agent for growth?

Like many pine trees, the cones contain seeds which are dispersed by the wind. However, the seeds of the longleaf pine will never germinate unless they come in contact with soil. When the ground around each pine is thick with leaf litter and undergrowth, the seeds fail to produce new trees.

Longleaf pines need fire to keep producing more trees. If other windblown seeds from hardwood trees take root and grow, the longleaf pines are eventually choked out.

The restoration of longleaf pine forests have become a major conservation policy of the state parks. Unless a lighting strike produces a fire naturally, the park staff use controlled burns to remove the undergrowth. Fire does not damage the longleaf pine, which is also resilient to pests, windstorms, and drought.

When I heard this information from a guide at Highlands Hammock, I was surprised. I never thought fire could be so helpful. Forest fires illustrate how trials are necessary for new growth. Nature often reminds me of scripture.

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood has test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12 NIV

Forests like this covered seventy percent of Florida when the early settlers arrived.

Intelligent trees?

After the seed germinates, the longleaf pine focuses on growing strong roots. When its taproot reaches a length of twelve feet, the longleaf pine concentrates on growing taller. Longleaf pines reach a height of one hundred feet and can live for three hundred years. Doesn’t all growth rely upon a firm foundation? A forest like the one above provides a home for thirty endangered animal species including the red-cockaded woodpecker.

As you can see by reading this post, I have always been a teacher at heart. I hope I have inspired you to spend time outdoors. Nature has much to teach us.

Be like a tree…. stay grounded and keep growing.

Enjoying a walk with Buddy in the Pine Flatwoods of Highlands Hammock.