Already the Spring ephemerals are showing. These are the wildflowers that pop up in their glory but only stay in bloom a few days. Ephemeral comes from the Greek word ephemeros which means living only a day. They are, for example, trout lilies, bloodroot, Virginia bluebells, Dutchman’s breeches, and the one I know best, the trillium. On our farm in Patrick County, Virginia, there is a steep bank a stone’s throw from the Dan River that is covered with hundreds of trilliums every Spring. They are white, pink, and violet.
Being truly ephemeral, they only last a week or two. I have walked extensively over all 400 acres, and this is the only place they bloom. They are small and humble, and after they finish showing off, the trillium plants blend into the other vegetation to be forgotten until next year.
Many of the great moments of our lives are ephemeral. Some last only a few seconds, and yet their memories bring us joy and wonder throughout our lives. I commend to you the new film Nomadland starring the great actress Frances McDormand. It is streaming on Hulu. There is a scene where a woman who has only months to live tells Frances what has given great depth and joy to her life. Everything she shares is ephemeral. Seeing a moose in a field. Geese in formation high above. That sort of thing. She decides to drive her camper to Alaska for her last adventure to collect some more wonderful ephemeral memories.
I encourage you to make a list of some of your most important ephemeral moments. I have so many, but today I am thinking about my first date with Kate back in the Fall of 1974. Sitting in the Janus theater holding hands. Her red dress. Pretending to watch the movie.
Not always, but sometimes even bad things can be ephemeral, thank God. That odd pain in the knee that mysteriously goes away and never returns. The problem that resolves itself the next day. The predicted storm that is no more than light rain.
Here are some words from the song “Moments” by Pierce Pettis.
Like a snowflake dancing on the tip of your tongue,
by the time you feel it there it’s already gone,
Gone, gone, gone….
Gone like moments
When it’s all over, what we wouldn’t give for moments.
Enjoy the Spring ephemerals and all the other wonderful ephemeral moments of your life.