LOCAL VIEW –Chickweed–

It may seem a bit cynical to say so, but sometimes I feel people need a bit of hell to appreciate heaven. One never appreciates sleeping past dawn as much as they do the first day boot camp is done. For this reason God may appear as cruel as a drill sergeant, or as callous as a surgeon who cuts to heal, until the moment one experiences being healed.

Spring is like a vast healing overtaking the entire earth, and defying the ordinary state of affairs where we see things get worn out. Ordinarily we expect stuff to get old and become obsolete and broken. Spring holds the bliss of a contrary way. I think that, in northern lands, people would become completely intoxicated and become quite useless and be unable to plant crops, and therefore God created biting black flies, to remind us we are not in heaven yet.

This spring seems especially beautiful because it took so long to get started. The daffodils seem especially perfect, because they had to wait so long to bloom they are not bitten by late frosts.

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It has happened with stunning speed. One day I was spreading salt on the snowy walk and the next I am mowing grass. The road crews have flipped from plowing to putting up the Memorial Day flags.

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The stark landscape is gentled too swiftly for the mind to capture or fully grasp.

Wherever you turn there are beautiful views, until I had trouble arriving on time because I had to stop so often to snap pictures of places I usually drove by without noticing.

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And sometimes I feel I took a wrong turn and entered a new world. (Or perhaps a right turn.)

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I’m two weeks late planting peas and potatoes and onions, but even in the garden I get reminders of healing. Among last year’s dead corn grows a mat of chickweed.

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I did not labor to plant this crop, with its tiny blooms.

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The old-timers said it was a cure for winter-dried skin and winter-clogged lungs. I gathered a gallon for dinner, (it shrinks a lot when boiled), musing to myself about how spring heals.

The more you draw, the farther the arrow flies,
And the more spring is delayed, the bluer
Are its skies, the greater your surprise,
As if you were a man who stepped from sewer
To paradise, or a damsel seeing a hero
Step from a gorilla disguise. Not all shock
Is trauma. Leaping to jackpot from zero
May drop gamblers, but winter’s thorny stalk
produced a rose of such sweet aroma
That scent became solid, a strange staircase
Climbing from garden through clouds, and such awe
Overwhelmed that no words can describe the place
Where ones mood climbed, except the poor word “bliss”.
Where one once was a worm: Metamorphosis.

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LOCAL VIEW –Final April Foolishness–

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I suppose there was no reason April shouldn’t end as it began, with slush mixed in with the raindrops hitting the windshield between swiping wipers. May will be different. Temperatures are suppose to rise from 37°F (3°C) this morning to 81°F (27°C) Wednesday afternoon. We’ll whiplash from winter to summer with no spring.

No, that is an exaggeration. Hiking with the children at the Childcare there were signs of spring, though they were signs I associate more with the final days of March than with the final day of April. The moss was greening on the boulders by a brook in the woods.

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And a raspberry mist rode the gray twigs of the swamp maples. When you draw close you see it is minute flowers.

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I like to point out such details to the children. Often they are oblivious, and walk on absorbed with whatever fantasy they currently are engrossed by, but once in a while I’ll see a child screech to a halt, set back on their heels by the beauty they’re midst.

Beyond doubt this has been the coldest April I’ve seen in many a year, and there is a sort of egotism that wants to use words like “worst” and “unprecedented”. Sadly I cannot glorify in such vanity, for people such as Joe Bastardi (on his blog at the Weatherbell site), have the time to dig deeply, and inform me we are only in third place in the satellite era, for both 1983 and 1997 were colder. Nor can I use the chill to silence those doom-and-gloom Alarmists who constantly bleat about Global Warming, for despite the chill over North America the planet as a whole is slightly warmer than normal.

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Sometimes I just shed the tension that seems to walk hand in hand with sensationalism, wherein things must always be “best”, “worst” or “most” to deserve attention. Instead I drop the need to be champion. It feels comforting to just relax, and quietly say, “One more April is in the books.”

For in fact there is beauty to see in every April, whether they are hot or cool, and coolness has it’s good side. I can recall years when the heat had everything pass in a rush, with the daffodils blooming and withering almost before you could see they were there. And one of the saddest springs I remember saw all the trees in my boyhood neighborhood turned from reality to memory, because a heavy, wet snow fell after all the leaves were out, and entire trees were broken down. (May 9, 1977). It is not always good to have the leaves rush to unfurl.

*******

Another day is breaking.

Better to take the days as they come. A day can make a difference, for, though the temperature is again 37°F, today every bough is shining as a white sun crests the hills.

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And the daffodils, neither burned by frost nor shriveled by heat, are as perfect as they’d be from a florist’s refrigerator.

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And the invasive lesser celandine unfurls a happy mat where I once had a lawn, petals opening even as I watch.

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And even the unkempt grasses where I do have a lawn are shining.

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I made it! Made it! I made it to May!
And all wintry thinking is fading!
All grayness and gloom is ebbing away
Though the leaves are too small to start shading.
The glades are so full of bright sunshine they smile
And the woods are warmhearted and golden.
I want to go walking for mile after mile
And hear how the bird-songs embolden
My lips to start whistling brand new songs
And my eyes to start dancing with clouds.
Begone all you woes! Begone all you wrongs!
Begone all you Gothic, funeral shrouds
For I’m off to the woods with nothing to say
But I made it! I made it! I made it to May!

LOCAL VIEW –Reluctant Rhapsody–

“This spring I will not write a rhapsody”
I observed, scuffing the street with old man
Feet, “For I’ve become like a dead tree
That has no sap. No green buds ever can
Gentle my claws.” I felt no great grief
Commenting, and bowed no sad violins
With self-pity. It seemed a fact and relief
That I was too old to add further sins
To my long list. The day had long passed
And I scuffed through dark fog with twilight gone
And then paused. All my dark thought was surpassed
By a sound like many lights long before dawn.
They punctured the calm my brain was self-willing.
In the swamp a thousand small frogs were all thrilling.

This is the most delayed spring I can ever remember. Usually the maples tantalize, for they start to bud out in late March, but are only flirting. Most years there is a long period where the forest is hazed by golden green and purple, and has lost the starkness of winter, as every twig is topped by a swelling bud, but the buds never bust out. A sort of prolonged reluctance becomes the mood, as the world awaits the true bursting out of May in all its glory. But this year the buds remained winter gray even in late April.

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Our first daffodil finally unwrapped its petals in slow motion on April 23.

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The forecast is for temperatures to soar next week. Yesterday we had a hard time getting up to fifty (10°C) but next week we may touch eighty (27°C) . I fully expect to wind up dazed, as around five weeks of spring will be compressed into 120 hours.

One likes to linger over springtime, as one does a fine glass of wine, but this will be like chugging a whole bottle at once. Around here we’ll all be reeling.