Monday, April 27, 2015

before the green begins

I allow myself

by Dorothea Grossman

I allow myself
the luxury of breakfast
(I am no nun, for Christ’s sake).
Charmed as I am
by the sputter of bacon,
and the eye-opening properties
of eggs,
it’s the coffee
that’s really sacramental.
In the old days,
I spread fires and floods and pestilence
on my toast.
Nowadays, I’m more selective,
I only read my horoscope
by the quiet glow of the marmalade.


I sometimes make the mistake of thinking I'm pretty well read in the poetry category, and then I come across a poet who seems to be quite well-known and respected that I've never heard of. I came across the work of Dorothea Grossman only because someone on Twitter linked to this wonderful comic strip by Summer Pierre. I like it because it's about the discovery of poetry, the discovery of its  use in a particular life, at a particular time. Which is really how poetry should be found, I think. When it's needed. 

And the poem. It's about the everyday, it's about enjoyment and what a luxury these small moments are, but also about how we change. "I allow myself," is the title, and this refers to the breakfast, but perhaps also to the ending. She allows herself to simply enjoy the quiet glow of marmalade, where before she would have been awakening to all the news of the day, devouring that as though it's a kind of duty or requirement. Now, she allows herself to read her horoscope, she allows herself to be more selective. 

The roses are from two weeks ago, and below, the yellow flowers are from last week. It might have been the day it snowed when I succumbed once again to grocery store flowers.

I made some oolong tea one afternoon, which I'd bought at the T & T Supermarket, along with some matcha Pocky. 

So let's see, if we were having tea this afternoon, what would we talk about? Books read, movies watched. I recently finished Nora Webster by Colm Toibin. She's a difficult character to really love, but the part of the book I really like is how she grows to appreciate music, and how it changes her life in small ways. She's in a music store, contemplating buying a stereo system. She listens to "Hymn to the Moon" by Dvorak:

"The voice rose steadily with the music and then soared above it. What she felt now more than anything was a sadness that she had lived her life until now without having heard this." 

As for movies, last night we watched The Young Victoria, looking for something escapist, not too heavy, not too sappy, and always something with a strong female character. Not sure how I missed it when it came out in 2010, but have now added it to my DVD picks list at the library. For Downton fans, interesting to note the screenplay is by Julian Fellowes.

And lastly, perhaps I would tell you about the preparations underway for Rob's show. I've been working madly on the catalogue for the 30th anniversary exhibition, scanning old photos, taking new ones. If you're in Edmonton the show is on June 6th at the Douglas Udell Gallery. You can follow Rob on Facebook if you'd like to keep up on the details.

April Prayer

by Stuart Kestenbaum

Just before the green begins there is the hint of green
a blush of color, and the red buds thicken
the ends of the maple’s branches and everything
is poised before the start of a new world,
which is really the same world
just moving forward from bud
to flower to blossom to fruit
to harvest to sweet sleep, and the roots
await the next signal, every signal
every call a miracle and the switchboard
is lighting up and the operators are
standing by in the pledge drive we’ve
all been listening to: Go make the call.

And it does seem like everything is poised....the small suburban forests begin to awaken. And I. 

I admit to sharing this poem every spring. It makes sense of things for me. It reassures me. Because of course change hurts.

Of Course It Hurts

by Karin Boye

Of course it hurts when buds burst.
Otherwise why would spring hesitate?
Why would all our fervent longing
be bound in the frozen bitter haze?
The bud was the casing all winter.
What is this new thing, which consumes and bursts?
Of course it hurts when buds burst,
pain for that which grows
and for that which envelops.

Of course it is hard when drops fall.
Trembling with fear they hang heavy,
clammer on the branch, swell and slide -
the weight pulls them down, how they cling.
Hard to be uncertain, afraid and divided,
hard to feel the deep pulling and calling,
yet sit there and just quiver -
hard to want to stay
and to want to fall.

Then, at the point of agony and when all is beyond help,
the tree's buds burst as if in jubilation,
then, when fear no longer exists,
the branch's drops tumble in a shimmer,
forgetting that they were afraid of the new,
forgetting that they were fearful of the journey -
feeling for a second their greatest security,
resting in the trust
that creates the world.

Of course things will get away from us. Of course a kite will be caught up in the tall trees and the birds will come and go to take a look at the strange creature, unable to fly. 

I suppose what I find most poignant about this time of year are the glimpses of the new overtaking the old. Last year's growth still clings, but won't last long. Yet it's all part of how a tree carries on, continues to grow which is obvious and yet still moving.

A few shots from the area in the utility corridor which surrounds a small bog or slough. In the summer, window open, up in my room at night I can hear the chirping of the frogs and this is where they are.

You can see how close it is to the highway - a road sign visible though the branches, below.

The nest in the next photo seems to be last year's nest. A bit dilapidated. Unused.

Last but not least, Ace after one of our photo walks. This next week I'm betting the green will arrive in full force and am looking forward to many long outings.

Wishing you a calm week, long walks, and beautiful spring awakenings.


  1. A lovely post! The Dvorak - remember me on awakening - a perfect accompaniment for this time of year, for these words and spring images. Also, I don't blame you one bit for the grocery store flowers. Snow in April tests even the most stoic amongst us : ) Yellow is such a great remedy for discouragement (though I, myself, might choose the word despair in regards to the snow- I'm no stoic!). xo

    1. I totally agree about yellow! On the side of our house we planted a forsythia hedge for that very reason. We're to have a full week of sun and warmth. I'm so relieved. xo

  2. Lovely way to start the week. Beautiful light in these images.

    1. Thx Staci! The light has been so welcome.

  3. A beautiful mix of old and new, the remnants of last year still hanging on and the lovely new green beginnings. And that poem, April Prayer, I just love it. Exciting times with Rob's new show coming up, I so wish I lived closer so I could go. Thank you for sharing Dvorak and that yummy cup of tea, it's been a lovely visit!

    1. If only we could visit in person :) Thanks, Susan.


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