Spring greetings to everyone! During that last, late snowfall it seemed that spring just might not come this year. But, as with all the cycles of nature, here it is in all its glory: blooming trees, dandelions turning fields golden, and then white with countless wishes; the smell of newly cut grass; and flowers popping up everywhere, with the buzzing of bees in every tree. What a beautiful place to live! Even the mosquitoes are part of the cycles in our beautiful Driftless Region.
I was recently asked to explain our region to some people from eastern Wisconsin … a question for which I was only able to give a vague answer. For those of us who live here, we know what it means; if not geologically, we have a visceral sense that it means “home.” The question got me thinking and researching, though…
Our region is cut by many rivers and waterways and is surrounded by rolling hills that date back tens of thousands of years. Our landscape is considerably older than the rest of Wisconsin. The last ice age skipped us, leaving ancient geology, beautiful rock outcroppings, and a region that seems to foster a generosity and connectedness found in few other places. It is a land of much beauty, history and tranquility. It is a land that provides a natural, rhythmic framework for understanding our lives.
Because of the many rivers and waterways, we experience seasonal flooding every spring. Some years this flooding is destructive. We can feel overwhelmed at our inability to control nature. The waterways are awe-inspiring; our rivers demonstrate the power of nature and its lack of concern for our human boundaries and structures. The spring rains come, and the rivers overflow their banks, reminding us of our place in the natural order. And then the water retreats, leaving us with gentle, meandering rivers, wide, sandy beaches and pristine islands — a summer playground unsurpassed.
This cycle, predictable and awesome, reflects for me the journey of parenting, and perhaps just the journey of being human. At times the water can feel high, powerful and even frightening or overwhelming, and then time passes. When I respect and honor the strength of each cycle, each season, accepting that it is part of a greater whole, the job of parenting, and being human, becomes beautiful in all its cycles. Embracing these natural cycles, rather than fighting them (almost always a losing battle), can bring peace.
The annual flooding can remind us that there is a time for all things, and that even the most difficult times will inevitably wane, and we will be left with a form of tranquility, even if the flow is different, and the shores are changed. May your journey into summer this year bring a season of beauty and an ability to embrace the natural cycles of life so clear in our River Valley.
With special thanks to my college friend Steve Nash for his article on cyclical time: www.sapiens.org/column/curiosities/cyclical-time-technology/
Jennifer Moore-Kerr is a mom, a free spirit and a barefoot dancer living in Spring Green where she can walk to the river and commune with friends. In her spare time she leads discussions on meaningful topics in order to foster better civic, civil dialogue in the River Valley. She is delighted to share her thoughts on kids, time and nature on a rotating basis with other columnists focused on creativity, education and kids.