Today is the anniversary of my father’s birthday. He passed away six years ago next month, just a few weeks after his 90th birthday. Sometimes I wonder about all the trees that he planted on the hillside around the house he and my mother built in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southern Virginia. I wonder how tall they have grown, how full the branches have become over the past thirty years. I wonder if the seedlings they produced have grown and the hillside now blends in with the surrounding forest. He carried rocks from all over the hill to strengthen the banks of the small stream that runs down along the edge of the hillside, winding its way down through the hollows of the mountains to join the Dan River on its way to the Roanoke River’s flow to the Atlantic.

I felt his spirit here with me this morning when I first woke up, and it stayed with me as I walked around the little lake in the pre-dawn light. He planted so much in me that I am grateful for. I wish he were here for me to talk with; and I am happy that I can feel his presence.

He knew the violence of the War, and instilled in me the ways of peace. He showed me the secret places in nature where the magic of new beginnings and survival of life happen. He taught me to choose carefully and with as much wisdom as I could; to look for the viewpoint that was not obvious, and to try to understand the viewpoint of the Other. And, through using words I didn’t know in order to insight me to seek their meaning, marathon Scrabble games, and the crafting of puns, he instilled in me the love for words. And, yet, I have no words to fully express my love for him.

D.B. Cowie,  July 8,1920 – August 30, 2010