The Spring thrushes haven't come winging north And all we have is our tiny winter birds Hopping through twigs, but now they're bursting forth With spring songs, heedless of how absurd's Their pert joy, in a world howled white by snow. They know what is still unseen by my glum heart. Maples also stir sap, as they too know Though they lack even bird brains. .................................Just how smart Is a man when, even though he's aware The calendar speaks of spring, he can't help But fight a demon of depressed despair Which turns his crooned songs to a whipped dog's yelp? Come on, sad heart; you can fake a few grins. Pluck a bright banjo. Put away violins.
Category Archives: Springtime
SPRING’S BUST OUT SONNET
Spring is like Lucy holding the football, and I am like Charlie Brown attempting to kick it.
Over and over, I seem to be tricked. I always say I won’t be fooled again, but something about Spring makes me want to grasp a sunbeam, which we all know is impossible.
It might be easier if Spring would obey a schedule, but it never does. It’s either early or late, but never on time. If you’re prepared it doesn’t come, because it has to sneak up on you, for it always surprises.
I must have been prepared this year, for the spring was especially delayed. Or perhaps I should say the busting-out part of Spring was delayed. We did get the early misting of twigs with color, especially the raspberry hues on the earliest swamp maples. But then everything was refrigerated like blooms at a florist’s shop by cold east winds off the Gulf of Maine. This was fine if you liked daffodils. They stayed fresh and yellow for two weeks. But the sugar maples held back, and didn’t mist their twigs with green gold, which inspired Robert Frost to begin a poem,
Spring's first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold...
Besides hinting that Robert Frost also was trying to grasp a sunbeam, because he used the word “hold”, the poem’s beginning describes the golden green which is a sure sign, in New England, that spring is at long last busting out. But it was delayed. Usually it happens around May first, but we reached the fifteenth and the fuse still had not reached the firecracker. It was especially tantalizing because simply driving to church dropped us a couple hundred feet in altitude and about twenty miles of latitude, and there spring was busting out, but after church we’d drive back to what was in a way still winter.
The delay, besides exasperating believers in Global Warming, also exasperated nature, for nature runs a tight ship which involves narrow windows-of-opportunity. So tight is the timing that a fair number of insects hatch out without any ability to eat. Their sole purpose as flying adults is to mate, and they have no time to eat. They will not stand for a two-week delay, and appeared despite the chill, which was a good thing, for numerous migrating birds also appeared, governed by the length of the day and the height of the sun, and they needed bugs to eat.
Even the swamp maples seemed to have committed to some sort of window-of-opportunity, and, having bloomed, they set about making seeds even as the cold repressed the expansion of their leaves. I noticed the raspberry mists had become maroon on the branches.
And when I looked more closely I noticed the seeds were nearly fully developed though the leaves were barely unfurled.
But besides the golden green of sugar maples the real sign of spring busting out was lilacs, and they stubbornly refused to bloom.
After a certain point the delay became much too tantalizing. After all, foreplay gets old if there’s never an orgasm. And it seemed obvious that when spring finally came it would be in such a rush you’d miss it, if you were cleaning your cellar.
And in a sense that is what happened. Our winds shifted to the southwest, and we were delivered a “hot shot” with temperatures soaring over ninety (+32 Clesius), and everything sped up to a ridiculous degree which should have had us all talking like chipmunks. You could hardly appreciate the blooming for the withering.
Flowers are a bit more substantial than a sunbeam, but they too cannot be gripped, for flowers fade. So, what we are trying to come to grips with in the spring is a Power which changes the entire world we live in, in a matter of hours.
Don't blink or you'll miss it: The swift shifting; The bowing of boughs under emerald. Do not let your attention go drifting And miss the sweet sniff. Know how lilac smelled The lone hour it's at its absolute peak; The lone minute of perfection, soon gone Astride a warm breeze. Don't scribble. Don't speak. Don't think you can write poems upon Such a brevity of blue-skied beauty. It was not made to ever be captured. Change cannot stand still, although you may see You are stilled, as it leaves you enraptured By a passing glance your grins cannot grip As God lifts a mountain with a lone finger tip.
The womb of morning births a brand-new day But I am too bashful to watch; too tone-deaf To hear Spring's chorus; too starchy to dare pray; Too unworthy to worship; too damn bereft Of guts to rejoice; much too color-blind To see beyond gray, and yet something stirs In me. I'm still alive. Oh Lord, You are kind And can comb my tangled hair; remove burrs From my crabbed thought; slap my scrawny butt Like a doctor does a newborn's; and boot me Onwards into day where I don't know what Miracles may occur. May my dull eyes see And my waxed ears hear. Don't let me stay shut Like a clam too afraid to sip the sweet sea. Smile away chains and set prisoners free.
A COUPLE OF SPRING SONNETS
I’ve seen the dawning of another spring;
The wearing out of winter; The surprise.
I should know by now: Frogs and birds will sing.
How do I grow ignorant? My old eyes
Gaze fondly on an old friend I forgot,
But how can I forget such a lover?
I think it is the newness; the sweet thought
That freshness is something you discover;
It’s ongoing. If you clutch it you fail.
Growing can’t stand still. I must get out;
Be part of greening. Indoors has grown stale.
Winter needs refuge: Walls that are stout
And warm fires, but walls become prison;
I must bust out and be newly risen.
Please do not think I am shaming or blaming The painters who seek to capture green gold, But spring is a picture no framing Can capture; a rapture no painter's controlled. I go to my garden to plan for my harvest; Make ready for winter and woes But my heart is singing. Such songs are best Heard in a garden which no mortal grows. I walk past my garden and head for the trees To watch silver twiggyness fade In a haze of hues that softly tease The sunshine to growing some shade. Paint me in this picture? The painter will claim He saw me stroll past the edge of his frame.
LOCAL VIEW –Arctic April–
APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers…
April is a tantalizing month in New Hampshire, for it can hold the heat of summer and then see that warmth followed by snows. At times this leads to crushing disappointment, but I always disagreed with T.S.Eliot, who called April “the cruelest month”. Down deep I knew the “tantalizing” wasn’t like the Greek legend of Tantalus. It wouldn’t go on and on and never end. After all, it has an expiration date of thirty days, and is followed by a wondrous thing called “May.” But there is no getting around the fact there is a sort of madness in the air. “March madness” is followed by “April Fools.”
I blame the brilliant sunshine. At this latitude the days are getting 3 minutes longer every day, or 21 minutes each week, and the route Old Sol cruises across the sky is noticeably further north, and his brilliance is suddenly as high as it is on the final days at the beach in boyhood summers, however whereas the shortening of days brings the melancholic madness of Halloween, lengthening days brings overriding optimism.
The uplift of mood is quite obvious in the children at our Childcare, and I notice that when they aren’t bounding like spring lambs they have a tendency to sprawl in the sunshine, no matter how bitter cold the winds may be. One moment they are charging ahead on a hike, and the next I look back and see them halted by a patch of checker-berries.
The temperature swings can be amazing in April. Our record highs tend to be up around 90°F (32°C) while our record lows are down around 5°F (-15°). To our south the land is warming and fruit trees are in bloom, while to the north snows linger.
The retreat of the snow to the north is accompanied by the reverse of what you see as snows advance south in the fall. Where temperatures are abruptly colder as soon as the ground is snow-covered, temperature are abruptly warmer as soon as landscapes are are snow-free. Where a white landscape reflects the sunshine a brown landscape absorbs it, and during the shorter nights the thawing turf remembers the days warmth, but white snows still provide an excellent base for radiational cooling.
In October north winds have less power despite the far longer nights, for the northern lakes haven’t frozen and their waters radiate heat remembered from the summer. Lakes steam like soup in the chill of dawn. Now the situation is reversed, for the same lakes are ice-covered, and the ice remembers the cold. People who have measured the temperature of lake’s ice (and arctic sea-ice) have discovered the thick ice on northern lakes can be colder than both the water beneath and the air above. The ice remembers the winter, and until it is gone it has the power to resist the onslaught of spring.
Some years the ice vanishes more swiftly than others, but this year the snow is slow to go.
This is not good news if you are thirsting for spring, and also if you are thirsting for proof the planet is warming. If anything, it can be used as an indication of a coming ice-age. The longer the snows last to the north, the longer the landscape reflects the sun’s heat, and the shorter the arctic summer will be. An ice-age begins when the prior year’s snow fails to melt before the following year’s begins falling.
I don’t even want to think of such a possibility, for I’m craving warmth. And, to be quite honest, in the records available in Concord, New Hampshire, going back to the late 1860’s, I tend to see we have always had extreme variety in our Aprils. The temperatures have been recorded in three or four different locals in Concord, over the past 150 years, so the precision of the records isn’t perfect, but the record-highs and record-lows neither prove the world is warming nor that it is chilling. For example, on April 7 the record high is from 2010 (87 °F) yet the record low is also recent, from 2003 (8 °F). But then the very next day you see the record high is from 1871 (92 °F) and the record low is from 1888 (15 °F).
I know some like to torture and tease these statistics to prove temperatures have risen a few tenths of a degree, or fallen a few tenths of a degree, but my mother always told me it was rude to tease. Anyway, what’s a few tenths of a degree when the weather is wild and temperatures can soar and plunge over seventy?
I have to deal with blunter realities, watching other people’s children, and one thing I have to watch is that the little ones stay off the ice. If there is any greenhouse effect around here, it is that the ice on a pond is like a roof of a greenhouse over the water beneath, heating the water beneath so that the ice thins, even when the temperatures stay below freezing. Children, and even adults, can’t comprehend under brilliant sunshine, ice that was safe on Monday becomes unsafe on Tuesday, even when north winds blow bitter and cold.
The brilliance of the sun is intense, and I have to watch out for sunburns even when children wear mittens and hats. The soil thaws even when it is below freezing, which is quite the opposite from November, when days are four hours shorter, and under the low sun a crust of frozen soil refuses to thaw (when you want to dig the last potatoes) even when south winds warm.
And, of course, as soon as the soil thaws a primitive urge to plant awakes, and absolutely everyone wants to start digging.
I tend to resist the spring-feverish urge to plant, for I’m an old grouch and have been embittered by years of having many volunteers in April, urging ambition, and then seeing them all mysteriously vanish when the weather gets hot in June, and weeds display an ambition all their own.
Also I remember many April warm spells that were followed by snows. As a landscaper I had to develop a tactful way of reining back my elderly customers (that my wife called “my harem”) because they were possessed by a sort of panic when the weather got hot, and the tomatoes were not planted. When I couldn’t dissuade them either the tomato plants were killed by late frosts, or they turned a strange hue of purple in cold rains, and then sulked a long time, refusing to prosper even when other tomatoes, planted later, swiftly grew.
In other words, I’ve developed a whole slew of excuses that help me to avoid hard work. In actual fact the old Yankee farmers worked the soil the first chance they got, and planted things like peas, that do not mind the cold. They burned 4000 calories a day, using every hour of daylight to eek a hardscrabble livelihood from a stony northern landscape. Woe unto us, if the survivalists are right, and we are thrown backwards into such subsistence, for I have become modern in my old age. I prefer getting my peas at the grocery store, and anyway, I doubt I have 4000 calories a day to burn, at age sixty-five.
If I did farm, I’d have to wear a white suit with a black string-tie like a southern plantation-owner, and order others about. I’ve paid my dues, when it comes to planting peas in mud with red hands as wet snow flies. Now I prefer sitting back on the first warm day of April and being the voice of doom and gloom, saying, “It’s going to snow again,” and then smirking when the entire north of the USA sees snow, like it does this morning.
The problem is that, though I get better and better at avoiding work, work seems to like me. It tags along like a puppy and won’t go away.
As the warmth comes north and fights the arctic, and the arctic fights back, we can get some wonderful winds. The trees roar and sunshine flashes between sliding clouds. A million pine needles each individually glitter threads of blinding white in the dawn, doubling the dazzle, and then, as the wind roars to a crescendo, you hear a crack and crash from the woods.
Trail is blocked. Sigh. Time to get out the chainsaw.
Hmm. Maybe April is the cruelest month, after all.
LOCAL VIEW –Singing In The Snow–
Sometimes I want to shoot the messenger. Ordinarily I am full of praise for the Weatherbell site, but today Joseph D’Aleo had the nerve to mention, on his blog, “Although the sun is 24 degrees higher in the sky and days are up to 3 and a half hours longer than the nights around Christmas, snows can happen in April.”
I don’t want to hear that.
Then he, and also Joe Bastardi, went on in great detail about how winter, in a final fit, could delay our spring. They were being honest, but so was Jesus when he told the Pharisees that their ostentatious outfits made them look like fools. And we know how Jesus was rewarded for his honesty, this being Easter. And I am grumpy and feel in some ways like a Pharisee.
At the same time I am perhaps less inclined to shoot (or crucify) messengers for telling the Truth, because I’ve been lambasted myself, when I simply comment on what the facts show us, in terms of all the hoopla about Global Warming.
I’m all for any sort of warming. After all, we get tortured in New Hampshire by false promises of spring every year, but the trees never are fooled, and never truly bust out until the first of May. I should know this by now. After all, I experienced my first miserable New Hampshire spring in 1972, and have more recently lived here non-stop for thirty years. However a boyish part of my heart remembers boyhood Springs, down in the flatlands of Massachusetts. Though only fifty miles away, Spring comes two weeks earlier there. And two weeks can seem like an eternity.
Not that the sun being 24 degrees higher in the sky and days being 3 1/2 hours longer doesn’t have an effect. It makes things worse. For example, look at the way the sun melts the snow away in only two days. Start here:
And move two days on to this:
And you’ll notice not green grass, but mud. Locals call it “The Mud Season.” In terms of running a Childcare, it means that rather than wet snowsuits I can throw in the drier, we wind up with muddy snow-suits I get in trouble for throwing in the drier. Of course I’ll also get in trouble, with the kids, if their snowsuits aren’t dry. It’s a lose-lose situation. The sooner Mud Season is over the happier I’ll be, but further frosts and further snows, as suggested by the Weatherbell site, will only prolong my misery.
Worst is that all the snow melted away back in February, and we had a day with a temperature of 72°F (22°C), and the mire was drying. All the Global Warming Alarmists were clicking their heels and joyously saying that the end of life as we know it was nigh. But I’m no fool. The only threat to life as we know it was that they were so blind to the facts. The east coast of the USA was one of the few areas in the northern hemisphere above normal.
I went on to audaciously suggest that all the gray land-areas and white sea-areas in the above map, when in-filled (“homogenized”) by NOAA, would lean to warmth and hide how cold it was. This proved I was a “Denier”, though I only stated the Truth. For example, in the above raw-data map southern India and western Ethiopia were below normal, but in the “homoginized” map below the same areas are above normal.
Why should I get in trouble for pointing out what I just pointed out? It is right there for anyone to see. But it seems some Alarmists don’t like looking. They have “eyes but cannot see”. They prefer to “look” like they are correct, and this makes them like Pharisee in ostentatious outfits, “looking” spiritual.
Don’t get me wrong. Compared to Jesus I’m a spineless coward, and flee from any threat of being crucified. But I find it dismaying that even a spineless coward like myself can catch grief, for pointing out what a child can see. What am I denying, and why am I called a “denier”, for pointing out what is so obvious?
And let me point something else out, which I’ll likely catch heck for.
Some say land temperatures don’t matter, because they are so quick to rise and fall, and we should instead look at the sea-surface temperatures. But they distress me because they fell the past two months.
To me this is distressing because most of the sea surface is in the southern hemisphere, and they have just experienced their summer. Is something besides CO2 having an effect, (such as a less intense and “quiet” sun?)
So, the northern hemisphere, which is mostly land, looks colder, and sea-surface temperatures, which are mostly in the southern hemisphere, also look colder, but we are to believe that, overall, the world is warming? I don’t think so. And the people who say the world is warming seem, to me, to be the true “deniers”.
I have nothing to gain from seeing a colder world. I long for warmth and for spring. I am not paid by “Big Oil” (or anyone else) for stating my views. I’m just saying the Truth as I see it. What is most chilling to me is not the delayed spring I face, but the retarded intelligence I face. I feel that, if a Renaissance is a societal springtime, societal spring is delayed, or even reversed.
An April snow? It is but piffle
Compared to the world-wide winter we’ve seen
Summer after summer. Stench? One whiff will
Cause the straight-walker to wheel and careen
Like a drunkard. Don’t try to explain it
With your politics, pitting rich against poor
And poor against rich, nor to contain it
Like an escaped genie. You cannot slam the door
On such a winter. Pandora’s mistake
Cannot be re-boxed, nor is her hope much good,
For winter causes the good hearts to break
And saints feed lions. Bow heads, as you should,
And then resort to the Last Resort, to call Spring:
In the face of the blues, sing, man, sing!
It seems a strange response to me, but there is a power in singing when all gets dark. As I pondered about this I happened to venture my ideas with a group of friends at a Bible-study, and they swiftly responded with examples of illogical singing defeating insurmountable odds.
A.) Jehoshaphat marched out to meet three invading armies with his musicians at the head of his army, and the enemy was thrown into confusion and fought each other to death, and Jehoshaphat’s soldiers didn’t need to draw a sword.
B.) Paul and his companions were thrown in prison after being severely beaten, and rather than than collapsing into exhausted sleep, they prayed (which makes some sense) and sung hymns (which doesn’t.) There promptly was an earthquake and the prison doors sprang open (which makes some sense) and their shackles sprang open as well (which doesn’t).
C.) In Psalm 69 King David, after listing reasons for woe and stating how his foes deserve punishment, states,
...But as for me, afflicted and in pain—
may your salvation, God, protect me.
I will praise God’s name in song…
I am not as skilled as my friends are, when it comes to quoting scripture. Instead I could only resort to secular sources, and turn to the unrecognized great American poet, Dr. Seuss, and point out that when the Grinch tried to steal Christmas, the Who’s defeated him by singing.
In any case, after talking we sang, and I have to admit I felt much better.
Afterwards I went home and dug up an old song I wrote back in 1972, after a night when I screamed into my pillow. I brushed it up a bit, and here is the 2018 version:
You are why the night wind’s hushing.
You are why the dawn is blushing.
You are why the birds start singing.
You are why the church bell’s ringing.
The night was long and cold.
I had no one to hold.
I felt so confused
And so abused
But I refused to think that You forgot me.
You are land lost sails discover.
You are why the ill recover.
You removed every splinter.
You can end every winter.
The song you teach at dawn
Goes on and on and on.
Dark and cold starlight
Fades from my sight
And I delight the Sun has not forgot me.
You are why the night wind’s hushing.
You are why the dawn is blushing.
You are why the birds start singing.
You are why the church bell’s ringing.
In conclusion, the springtime this poor planet really needs isn’t meteorological. It needs another Easter.
LOCAL VIEW –Perfected Creation–
I thought I’d include this poem to demonstrate how my mind wanders.
1.) A sea-ice post led to a discussion of drifting continents.
2.) God moving continents about is like a husband moving about the furniture.
3.) We, as the “bridesmaids” God created, likely nagged Him into doing it.
4.) Time for a poem.
For just a moment, every spring,
I see how perfect Eden must have been.
For just a dawn, before bugs come out to sting,
I glimpse how life will be, when freed of sin.
Spring’s an echo of God saying, “It is good.”
We should have accepted the compliment.
Instead it seems we told God that He should
Move the furniture, shift each continent,
End drought but end rain.
What had God created?
A nagging wife? Did our Maker then groan
“This isn’t good!” No, for He clearly stated
The not-good he’d made was, “To be alone.”
The opposite of “alone” is “in love”
And, because God is love, isolation
Is the enemy. Creation dreams of
A great family’s celebration
And, though family may bicker and fight
And be His headache, we’re still His delight.
(Photo Credit: Marlowe Gautreau)