Monday, May 9, 2011

Springtime in the PNW

Last week on our hike I saw my first trillium blooms of the year. And of course they were beautifully enhanced by raindrops, which help to emphasize their beauty, even if it wasn't all that comfy for the hikers. You might even see the raindrops as tears.

It's been a strange couple of days. I learned that another skydiving friend of mine in Colorado died last weekend from a swoop gone bad. I was not as close to him as I was to Emily, but they were quite close to each other, and I had known him for more than a decade. Last summer, these two beautiful people were on a demo team together, and now they are both gone, neither one of them ever having the chance to have children, get old, or learn from their mistakes.
This picture was taken last summer after they had successfully completed a demo jump at Red Rocks Amphitheater to open a sold-out concert of the String Cheese Incident band. You can see how thrilled they were, and everything went perfectly. But now...

For people who don't know much about skydiving, a swoop is a completely different aspect of the sport. It concentrates on building incredible speed under a small, high-performance canopy and timing it so you are able to do some pretty amazing things as you land. But it is without doubt more dangerous and more controversial than most everything else about our sport. While these two learned to maneuver smaller and smaller canopies, those of us who are interested in the sport for the fun of freefall and the delight at flying around a nice big docile canopy, well, we go the opposite direction. My new canopy is larger than my last one, and it treats me well if I treat it well.

So this event gave my Mother's Day a much different feeling than it would otherwise have had. It reminded me of the painful loss of Emily as much as sadness that yet another of my friends has died. I spent yesterday afternoon at the gym, and as I swam a half mile to gain a meditative state, it helped me use up the sadness in exercise. Today and tomorrow are supposed to be dry and partly sunny, which will also help me deal with it by getting out and enjoying the sunshine.

I also noticed that the lilacs are finally beginning to bloom, a full month later than they did last spring. They were gone by the end of April, and now in mid-May they are just beginning to open up and send their fragrance into the air. I just now went outside to take a few pictures so you can see what they look like today. They don't last long, but this particular picture reminds me of the Walt Whitman poem entitled When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd, an elegy he wrote to Abraham Lincoln not long after he was killed.
Later today my friend Judy and I will head down to the independent theater here in Bellingham to see the documentary I Am, produced by Tom Shadyac. It is supposed to be an inspirational film, and after watching the trailer I think maybe it will be just the thing for this rather somber springtime day.

Life comes in all colors and shades, doesn't it? I decide to be happy today and to feel the blessings surrounding me, and I hope you do, too.


  1. So sorry to learn one of your friends has passed doing something he loved.
    It's those kind of odds that wouldn't lure me to the sport, I'm afraid.
    Your Lilacs are just gorgeous, and I bet they smell heavenly.

  2. I'm so sorry to hear of another tragic death in your sky diving family. Yes, smell the flowers and enjoy spring time, and dwell on life renewed. Each day is a new beginning.

  3. sorry about your friend and the memories it dragged up...the pic is chilling knowing they are both gone now...lovely flowers...enjoy your spring djan and belated happy mothers day!

  4. I have heard that I Am is a wonderful film. I look forward to it, too. I'm glad you chose to be happy, always the better choice no matter the circumstances. En-Joy!

  5. Too bad about your friend. How young he was!

    When I was single, I led a risk-taking life, circling the globe alone with very little money, but finding English teaching jobs in Bangkok and secretarial jobs in the States.

    Today, I wouldn't think of doing that -- not at my age, though you might say that age is only a number.

    These days, I risk very little...

  6. Oh DJan, I am so sorry to hear of the lost of another skydiving friend. And to have all those memories come rushing back would be difficult. Life does have many colors and we must enjoy each day.

    The flowers are beautiful, our lilacs started blooming last week.

  7. I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of yet another one of your friends. You've endured a lot of loss recently and I know it must take its toll. Two such beautiful, young people.. it just seems so wrong. Hugs to you.

  8. So sorry for the loss of your friends, Djan.

    You are much farther ahead than we are - our lilacs are nowhere near ready to bloom. They are my absolute favorite flower!

  9. True sadness. And for me, spring makes it harder - everything is renewing except the people you have lost. Nonetheless, it is beautiful. Like life I guess, all mixed up. (Like this comment- sorry, just want to say that I am thinking of you).

  10. I am sorry for the loss of your fellow skydiver. You really work at conquering losses and one of the ways is to write about it.

  11. My goodness..sad news..but when they enjoyed what they were can you mourn. It is just the nature of the sport that some will die..and I guess that is a risk you take every time you go up to jump...everyday is an adventure:)

  12. Sad news, skydiving really sounds exciting but pretty dangerous if the diver is not very cautious. And for you, you be careful!

  13. The photo of them both together does give one one knows what lies ahead. Nothing to do but enjoy one's life and accept what can't be undone.

  14. I just looked at the I Am trailer. Definitely on my list. Thanks for much for mentioning on our blog and providing the link here. It looks fantastically uplifting.

  15. I am so sorry to read about the tragedy your friends encountered.
    A nice spring day and beautiful flowers can lighten the mood a bit. I love how you say, you "decide" to be happy and feel the blessings surrounding you. How you live your life is all about the decisions you make, isn't it?

  16. Wow, so sorry to hear of another loss, DJan.
    Please let us know what you thought of I AM.

  17. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of another one of your friends, DJan...and especially sad because his death could have been prevented....
    Wow, your lilacs and trilliums are out already? Neither of ours will appear here until the end of May or middle of June. I look forward here to both of them as they are my two favorite spring flowers.

  18. I know many people who want to be safe so they never take any risks at all. What a loss!

    Glad you have decided to be happy.

  19. Trilliums are the flower for my province and are protected. The white variety are pretty. Did you know the red ones give off the scent of rotten meat?


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