In July my husband and I went camping on Cumberland Island, a barrier island and National Seashore in South Georgia. Unlike the other barrier islands, Cumberland is mostly undeveloped, and the only way to get there is via ferry (there are almost no cars on the island).
Our first day on Cumberland, we hiked nearly eighteen miles under ancient live oak trees draped with Spanish moss; walked (and swam) along wild beaches filled with massive sand dunes and sea turtle nests and not a single other person; and stopped to observe armadillos, baby alligators, deer, wild horses, osprey, spiders, dung beetles, and more.
It was hot. Like, 95 degrees and 75% humidity hot. So hot the National Park Service had set up temporary cold-water stations near the main attractions.
At one point early in the hike, a very vivid image arose in my mind of my husband and I coming across a pawpaw tree with large, ripe fruit. I clearly saw us sharing one that quenched our thirst and provided energy for the long hike back to our campsite.
Immediately, I thought, “How ridiculous. I’ve seen one tree that might have been a pawpaw on our walk so far, and I’m not even sure they grow here.”
Now, we have history with the pawpaw—the tree that grows the largest edible fruit indigenous to North America. I learned about this once-plentiful, now-somewhat-rare tree and its delicious fruit, rumored to taste like a cross between a mango and a banana, shortly after moving back to Atlanta. Given my obsession with native plants and my husband’s fondness for edible ones, we bought two and planted them as soon as we moved into a house with a big enough yard. We’re currently growing four more and continue collecting seeds to sprout.
Keep in mind, we did all this without ever having tried the fruit. Our pawpaws are too young to produce, so we have the habit of constantly keeping an eye out on our walks and hikes for wild pawpaws we can try. For nearly ten years, up until our Cumberland trip, we’d only found a few with fruit, and those were so small they didn’t have any flesh on them.
All of which is to say, it seemed excessively unlikely that we would find not just a pawpaw, but one as big as the one in my vision, in a coastal region where I wasn’t even sure they grew.
Until that’s exactly what we did.
Just after we ate lunch and headed back to our campsite on the main dirt road, I saw it—a beautiful, slender tree with smooth, gray bark and large, oblong leaves. And there, just about waist-level, were two large, ripe pawpaws.
I yelled my surprise and joy and asked for permission to take a fruit. It seemed okay, so I took the riper one, thanked the tree, and handed the precious fruit to my husband. We shared its abundant, custardy flesh as we walked, and it did indeed taste a lot like banana mixed with mango.
It was an unexpected gift that fueled our steamy and somewhat arduous nine-mile hike back to our campsite.
I don’t know what synchronicity is or why it happens. I don’t think it matters whether you prefer to explain it as science or something more. What I believe does matter is acknowledging synchronicity’s gift and power, which—scientifically explained or not—always feel like magic to me.
In one more piece of magic, I decided to write this story for September’s Wild Hunch back in August. Since I was going to be traveling, I wanted to get my draft written early. So it was last month that I did some research on pawpaws and found out that the Shawnee, the Indigenous people whose traditional lands include the Ohio River Valley, call the pawpaw ha’siminikiisfwa, which means pawpaw moon. Turns out, they have a whole month dedicated to pawpaws, and it happens to be the month of September. So, this post about pawpaws serendipitously made its way into the world on ha’siminikiisfwa, the pawpaw moon.
Find Your Own Intuitive Nature
Synchronicity is a powerful force, but we often don’t take the time to fully discover or acknowledge its gifts. For the next month, you might set the intention to notice when synchronicity, serendipity, or simple coincidence arises in your life and write down what happens, where you are, who is involved, and how you feel. At the end of the month, go back and read through your journal and see if any additional meanings or gifts reveal themselves to you.
And of course, you can continue this practice longer than a month if you like. I’ve been recording synchronicity this whole year so I can read through it in December when doing my year-end reflection and find out what it can teach me.
I would love to know what this is like for you! I’ve created a special group on Facebook so we can receive each other’s stories about developing our intuition in nature. Please go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/180860054978770/ and share your experiences there.
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A sensitive young woman rediscovers the hidden gifts of her forgotten inner nature.