Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Loveliest of streets

About a hundred and fifty years ago, A.E. Housman wrote a poem about my front yard.  He wrote,
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
is hung with bloom along the bough,
and stands along the woodland ride
Wearing white for Easter-tide.
Okay, maybe this poem wasn't about my particular street, because Housman lived in Bromsgrove England, not in central Pennsylvania.  But this time of year, my street really is about the most beautiful street in my city.  The whole street is full of flowering trees that pop into bloom come the end of April.  Both sides of the road, plus a grassy median divider down the middle of the road, are all awash with cherry blossom trees as well as dogwoods.  They're wearing white and pink for Easter-tide, and it's just about the most amazingly wonderful place to be.

In fact, this is a view from my bedroom window earlier this week. There are dogwood blossoms, and there's a squatting dude.


The squatting dude was taking pictures of the trees as well as pictures of a young couple standing in the grassy median, surrounded by the trees.


I'm guessing that this couple had just gotten engaged, and that this was their professional engagement picture.  And of all the beautiful places in world they might want to have this moment commemorated, they chose the street in front of my home.


It's a picture of loveliness.  Or of loveliest.  It's a reminder to me to be grateful for what I get when I just walk out the door.

Housman's poem is about gratitude, too, as well as about how we can apply mathematical insights that enhance our gratitude, insights that allow us to make the most of the time we have amid beautiful places.  The people out my window were young, like Housman.  He computes the years remaining to him, and uses his meditation on time to think about the trees even more,
Now of my three score years and ten
Twenty will not come again,
and take from seventy years a score,
that leaves me only fifty more.
 
And since, to look at trees in bloom,
fifty springs are little room,
along the woodland I will go
to see the cherry hung with snow.  
Me, of my three score years and ten and possibly more, fifty one will not come again.  But still, I'm heading out to see the cherry hung with bloom.  Life is good.

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