A Fun-Loving Guide to the Natural World for Kids and Adults

A Grand Canyon in Our Backyard

The Grand Canyon is considered one of the great marvels of nature because it is simply overwhelming.  Primarily visual (though it certainly engages the other senses), it fills our visual capacity, challenging our ideas of breadth, distance, and depth.  It takes us literally to the edge.

Today, when Rebecca and I stepped outside, we found ourselves at another sort of Grand Canyon.  This one engaged our sense of smell, and it, too, took us to the edge of what we felt possible to experience with our olfactory sense.  This Grand Canyon was created by the wild plum blossoms, which were blooming white all along our country road.  Every year at this time, their smell becomes thick and fragrant, so that it moves over you in heady waves.  In the same way that the sight of the Grand Canyon can make your entire body feel Alive, the scent of the plum blossoms fills your entire being.

As we walked down the road, we considered how lucky we were to experience this wonder of nature.  This was a scent-based ‘Grand Canyon’, and it was right here in Sweetwater, right in our back yard.

How often nature presents us with wonders like this!  These are not subtle phenomena that require us to cultivate more appreciative senses.  These are the Right-In-Your-Face events that are available to many of us every day.  It might be crashing waves on a beach that show us how easily our bodies are tossed and pushed by the force of something as ‘soft’ as water.  It might be the bright calls of the birds around your birdfeeder, filling your ears with music.  It might be the autumn leaves turning the hills into a wonderland painting made by a child.  Or it might be the impossible depth of the night sky as distant stars and galaxies  sparkle with light that is millions and millions of years old.

This is the world we live in, and how blessed we all are to be a part of it.

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11 Responses to “A Grand Canyon in Our Backyard”

  1. It could be a still lake at dawn, a two-days-past-full moon reflected pale as a pearl on the water as the rising sun touches the tops of the trees with gold, a Winter Wren trilling and fluting so sweetly you hardly can believe your good fortune to hear it. Thanks for inspiring memories of transformative moments. Your writing captures the wonder of it all.

  2. Wonderful! Here, too, they are now in full bloom and we’ve been enjoying the delightful scents you’ve captured so well in this post. I had no idea “our” wild plum was so extensive, and that you have the same species in Wisconsin.

    Great post!

  3. Hello Jackie! Thanks so much for the beautiful comment — we appreciate the compliment on our writing, and feel compelled to return one to you. You painted more lovely pictures of ‘Grand Canyons’ that are close to home.

  4. Hi Sally! You have them in Colorado as well! We, too, didn’t know how far they ranged. What a perfect plant to have stretching across this continent. The blooms seem to be getting larger and more fragrant every day — it’s positively heady!

  5. Trees like the Grand Canyon! Great simile.
    Thanks for the nice reminder on appreciating the world around us.

  6. What a wonderful comparison, a “Grand Canyon” for our wonderful sense of smell. The wild plums are done blooming here in Northwest Missouri, but a few weeks ago our senses were too overwhelmed with their fragrance. They seemed especially perfumy and gorgeous this year. For the first time in many years we are finally getting a true Missouri spring, and the plants are loving it, as are we! I wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your wonderful photos and inspiring stories. Nature is a steadfast inspiration.

  7. Hello MObugs41,

    Thank you for the wonderful compliments! Nature truly is inspiring. We too have noticed that the blooms seem especially grand this year! It has us wondering what the plums will be like! One of our favorite things to do during plum season is to walk from tree to tree, taste-testing a plum from each one. It seems that each tree imparts different amounts of sweet, sour, and richness to its fruit — sometimes the fruits taste remarkably different, even on adjacent trees!

    Here’s hoping that your Missouri spring continues to surprise you with its sensory offerings =)

  8. Hello barefootheart!

    Thanks so much. We feel so lucky to be experiencing this amazing world, and have appreciated discovering friends through this site who also appreciate the wonders of nature. Thanks for sharing through your website and your visits here!

  9. “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away”

  10. Hi Kenton and Rebecca, Wild plums are beautiful, they are one of the first signs of spring. We appreciate that you delight in nature with us. Thanks Murray and Madonna

  11. Dear Carole,

    How beautifully stated. A perfect quote =)

    Murray and Madonna — Are the plums not incredible? We’re so inspired by your own love of nature, and by the life you’ve chosen as stewards of your beautiful land. We’re so pleased to have met you both!

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