Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Unsettled Weather

Ah, spring is here, I rejoiced the  last several days.  And, indeed the daffs and narcissus are up and beginning to bloom.  BUT when I looked out this morning the predicted rain for today was coming down in the form of white flakes, icy white flakes.  The ground was lighted sprinkled, my car needed brushing off, the very strong breeze -- or better said, wind -- was definitely wintery and out of the north. Nasty puffs from the mouth Boreas himself.

No, it didn't last long, the snow was gone in an hour and the sun tried to shine and succeeding for longer and longer periods.  I was rudely slapped back to the reality that it won't  be dependably spring until the end of the month but surely will be by then. The photo above was taken a couple of years ago just at the end of April when Rachel and I were walking  on a road not far away. It seems to me a perfect little patch of spring.  

This is a quiet week for me.  I skipped the foreign film yesterday because I saw it when it came out a few years ago and was not greatly impressed.  So I have two free days and have three projects in the works.  I like to work on more than one thing at a time: a quilting job, a writing job, and a "ugh" job, in this case, little efforts at spring  house cleaning.  Today it was mostly laundry and some sorting -- the big put away/get out closet change over it not going to happen for at lesat two weeks because the weather just isn't that dependable.  Tomorrow will be another day split between the jobs and I will have a sense of accomplishment by the end of the day. I think of Marge Piercy's poem about work in which she, the most practical and down to earth of her generation of women poets, says we need meaningful work -- as a pitcher needs to contain water. It's true. I like her simplicity and I like to feel I'm working, accomplishing something, getting a quilt made, writing (just now) a booklet of quotes for a friend's birthday, and doing the woman's work I learned about so long, long ago, keeping the house clean and relatively tidy. 

I do not understand people who can be satisfied (are they really?) with a day spent watching TV. I do understand poet Mary Oliver who wanders fields all day and then writes poems about them. Her careful attention to the natural life around her and it's translation into words that helps her readers see what she saw. I have been very much into reading and writing and thinking about poetry lately.  Yesterday a man in our poetry class read a poem describing childhood games of Monopoly with such vividness the ritualistic qualities that the audience had experienced as he did was made clear and took on a broader meaning of how we learned capitalism (although he did not say so in so many words until after the poem was being discussed).  Helping others see and understand is a poet's job -- a job as useful as a pitcher holding water.  I dislike my poems when they are far short of that goal.

Monday, April 14, 2014

An April poem

It's April again and I think spring is really here.  I was reminded of the April poem I wrote about a year ago. Since it's still National Poetry Month,  here is the poem, called "Flirty April."

Flirty April

Today’s early-in-April sunshine
Has a determined adolescent strength—
The breeze ruffling the grass shakes its fists
like a freckle-faced sixth grade bully.
I claim nearly empty Long Beach as my own.
This mile-long spit of land and sand,
marsh grass and still brown tangles of thorny roses.
A flat-land farmer’s daughter who didn’t see
an ocean until I was twenty-three,
Far from my own adolescence, I welcome
This youthful day in fickle April.

As I walk the damp sand, I peel off my jacket,
tie it around my waist, push up my sleeves—
Come, Sun, pour your vitamin D into me.
I see, footprints in the sand--not sneaker prints—
bare, man-size footprints–paw prints too.
I look the length of the gently curved shore.
Who dared the chilly sand so early? 
I do not see this “Friday”–the native, I surmise.

The tide reaches, then recedes reluctantly.
To my right, sun jewels flash on the water;
to my left, a wind-row of broken shells,
once stony homes to tiny globs of life.
I settle where I often pause to gaze
on the blue illusion we call horizon,
where sky and water only seem to meet
because we are small, our perspective limited
and they are vast, almost endless.  I often
meditate on that metaphor, but not today.
Breezy fingers ruffle my hair inviting me to play. 
April, child of early spring,
I will join your light-hearted game. 
I pull off my sneakers and socks.
I’ll make another pair of prints.
Come, lapping water, kiss my feet.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

It MUST be Spring

A wonderful walk on the beach yesterday.  Rachel and I decided it was warm enough not only to peel off our jackets but to take off our shoes and walk barefoot.  Even on the wet sand at the edge of the turning tide, my feet were not too cold.  To me, this is the beginning of summer.  I'm hoping today, being Sunday, it will be nice enough to take my beach chair down to the sand and work on the Sunday crossword puzzle.  Ah...  we've waited long enough for this.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Laughter on a Rainy Day

April showers are one thing.  Rain that thinks it's still March is another and it's very uncomfortable.  But yesterday's cold, dreary rain was lighted in the afternoon by first my poetry class and then the foreign film series.

Only about half the usual class braved yet another nasty day but among those present we had a couple of treats.  Leslie who is new but showing both serious and fun talent, brought in a poem that was a complaint about the weather with a perfect rhythm and rhyme to match "A Few of My Favorite Things" ... not!  She read it and then the class spontanteously sang it back to her (we bring copies of our work for each person) then applauded her and ourselves. A little later, Anna, who is a musician and has in the past brought in some serious song lyrics, sometimes with a tape of herself singing and playing the piano, brought a quintessential country & western song, on tape.  The last thing one would expect from the lady with the elegant French twist hairdo.  All about heartbreak and sorrow, of course.

For real loud laughs, the foreign film series showed Waking Ned Devine, an Irish comedy in which poor Ned had the winning lottery ticket and died of a heart attack upon hearing the news. With many a ploy and some sight gags (two elderly men, by turns, riding a motor cycle naked, for example), the small town found a way to get the large lottery jackpot and share it fairly with everyone. There were appropriate subplots: a young woman courted by two men, a mean old woman on her motorized wheelchair, much drinking in the pub and some happy dancing and music making. It was a totally delightful movie and when it was over at 5:15 the rain had stopped although the sun was not going to be out all day. It's promised for today but so far the clouds are still there.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Like a Battlefield

Instead of walking on the beach yesterday, I walked around Hathaway's Pond, which is in a conservation area, mostly wooded. The path around the pond is somewhat rough--not the kind one could push a baby carriage on, say, but one dogs enjoy romping on. Rachel and I used to walk around the pond frequently while Molly was still alive.  I had not been there since early in the winter.

Immediately I had to duck under a tree that was fallen, held up by it's tangle of limbs caught in the trees that had caught it and stopped it's fall onto the path. And so it went all the way around the pond, several leaning over the path and many more fallen, often not quite to the ground. I could not help thinking of a battlefield. Indeed the high winds of winter's blizzards are to blame for all the devastation.

The day was mild and the breeze that might have been quite chilly at the beach was pleasant among the trees which are not yet showing promise of leaves, although some of the briars which are plentiful near the path were rosy or turning chartreuse. Spring is just a hint here in the woods. Out in the lawns of homes crocuses are beginning to open. If the weather continues in the high 40s and low 50s spring will burst forth ... it is time.  We have had a harder winter than in the previous four years I've been here. I am ready for a change and so are all the friends  I talk to -- and it's a subject that comes up often.

I suspect these trees are going to stay where they are for some time. This is only a tiny bit of a rather large area of wild wood.  I've approached it from other entry points and do not understand the tangle of paths through the gerrymandered form of the area.  I blame a walk in a different section for the nasty tick that bit me a couple of springs ago and sent me to the hospital.  Thank goodness it did not carry Lymes disease but a bug called earlycosis  (which may not be spelled that way) and was cured quickly once identified so that the right antibiotic could be prescribed. Never mind the unseen dangers of walking in the woods.  I still enjoy it and don't plan to stop although in really warm weather it's the beach that calls to me.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Another poem: Que sera sera

April, as noted before, is National Poetry Month.  Here is a poem written for my poetry class.
It's what the class leader calls a "manifesto poem."

            Que sera sera

A telephone call, an invitation                                   
To an important conference came                              
Just at the time I needed to meet                               
Those people, just at the time                                               
I welcomed a change.                                                 

Too many say shit happens.                                     
I say serendipity happens.                                        
A telephone call, a chance meeting,                           
Sometimes nothing more than                        
Cherries in the grocery store. 
Others are planners, worriers weighing
Choices, seeking assurance,                                       
Need approval, fear the unknown.                            
Others live by que sera sera.                                    
Not impulsive, but not mired.                                   
Opportunity knocks. “Hello,                                                
Give me a minute or two.”                                         

Que sera sera isn’t winning the lottery,                   
Or sitting on your hands awaiting gifts.                    
It’s not wanting too much                                         
Or valuing too little what you have.                          
Life doesn’t owe you a damned thing .                      
Gladly take what falls in your lap.                            
Que sera sera and serendipity

Friday, April 4, 2014

Winter damage

A couple of bright sunny, if still chilly, days let me walk to the end of "my" beach (really a conservation area) which is a long spit of land between an inlet of the ocean and an outlet of a creek that joins with the inlet (actually in the top picture).  Over the past couple of years, thanks to hurricanes, I have thought it possible a narrow strip between the two bodies of water that separates the longer spit from the comma-shaped end, was likely to wash away so that the end would become an island, or at least an island at high tide. 

Yesterday I discovered that the conservators are trying what they call (on a sign) "an ancient" method of dune stabilization. A least a couple hundred stakes, about ten inches tall above the sand (how long underneath I don't know) have been set out.  Five years ago there was a higher dune on the ocean side and an area of marsh grass on the other side.  Now it's all sand and I hope this method works.

Further on the winter damage is clear. A large shrub that was closer to the end has been washed at least 20 feet.  Beyond it is a tree that has become more and more endangered each season. It was alive and covered with leaves five years ago but is now dead  and for a couple of years has become a "shell tree" where broken conch shells are threaded onto the limbs.  I see that a few shells have been placed on the displaced shrub as well. 

I understand the impulse of walkers to pick up these large, usually broken, shells and give them a home on the tree.  I've added my share.  Behind the tree some of that tangle of shrubs will surely come out in leaf and some of the tangle of beach roses will flower.   And I will continue to walk out here and watch the changes. Yesterday's walk was beautiful because I finally had a blue sky day.  But it was one of the uglier days to walk because a great deal of brown seaweed has been washed up all along the mile long beach.  As a country girl, I must say that those piles of matted brown vegetation reminded me of barn manure.  Happily it was not rotting enough to stink -- because the temperatures were still cool I surmise.  I am happy these days have been lovely and I hope the weekend will bring more so I can begin to feel that the time for daily summer beach walks is approaching.