Monday, May 25, 2015

wide open

May opens wide

by Marge Piercy

The rain that came down last night
in sheets of shaken foil while thunder
trundled over the Bay and crooked
spears of lightning splintered trees

is rising now up stalks, lengthening
leaves that wave their new bright
banners tender as petals, seventeen
shades of green pushing into sun.

The soil feels sweet in my hands
as I push little marigolds in.
Bumblebees stir in the sour cherry
blossoms floating like pieces of moon

down to the red tulips beneath
the smooth barked tree where a red
squirrel chatters at my rescued tabby
who eyes him like a plate of lunch.


May has broken wide open, blossoming like mad. It's a bit surreal to begin the month with so much snow, and end it with this exuberant colour. To readjust our eyes to the seventeen (or more) shades of green.

This past week we planted many flowers in containers, and began to work on a bed in our garden, that was once full sun and now, mainly shade. We planted a few hostas, some bleeding hearts. So far it doesn't look like much, but when it does, I'll share some photos.

Meanwhile, every morning the camera comes with me on my walk. The feeling that I'm never quite capturing things is something I'm also dragging around lately. But I guess this is part of the practice, pushing through and working in spite of those feelings of dissatisfaction.

I've been waking up earlier than usual. Not necessarily intentionally. By 5am it's bright outside, and my eyes seem to fly open. I've beginning my mornings with Lydia Davis's Collected, which I've mentioned before, and have now also put on my recommended reading shelf (above).

Things said about her work: it's strange, unique, magnificent, understated, funny, surprising, sharp and ironic. All true.

For example:

Spring Spleen

by Lydia Davis

I am happy the leaves are growing so large so quickly.
    Soon they will hide the neighbour and her screaming child.

If you've ever set foot in my back yard, you'll know why this speaks so directly to me. At times I think our entire yard has been designed to shut out the neighbours, and there is one tree in particular that I cheer for every spring because it blocks the view, if not the nasally voice of the neighbour directly behind us. It's not so much the nasally tone that offends, but the know-it-all, condescending, lordly things that he utters. The things his wife endures.

So, in an effort to cheer myself up and shake up my photography practice, I isolated a bit of the bokeh from another photograph of a dandelion which hadn't the proper focus. 

Many strolls were taken through the nearby little forests. 

Ace is always happy to wander about in the trees. 

So I've been trying to challenge myself to capture views of the suburbs where I live. Below, we are coming out of the TUC or Transportation and Utility Corridor area and onto a main road which borders my neighbourhood.

Every year I marvel at the blossoming trees by the 7-Eleven. But trying to compose the scene in the camera confounds me. Not possible to fit everything in with the lens I use, I suppose.

Well. What have I been listening to? I've been working my way through various videos at NPR. This one for example. And this one, called, "Hard Work" by Christopher Paul Stelling. "I know my work is never done, 'til I can see the good in everyone."

The proofs have arrived for Rumi and the Red Handbag, and there's a relatively short window to get them back to my editor. But by now the book has been gone through so often, that I don't expect to find too terribly much. This is the stage that I print the thing off and hand it off to Rob, as well. He's not read it for ages and his fresh eyes will be excellent. It's also the stage where I get to write my acknowledgments page - fun - and also where I start completely freaking out with the realization there's no going back! There's no more big changes. This thing is   d o n e.

The book I most often referred to while I was writing RRH is The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector. I would love it if people had read this book before reading mine.

The other focus in our lives right now, of course, is Rob's 30th Anniversary show at the Douglas Udell Gallery on June 6th. I'm in the process of updating his website, and have a list of things to do before the big day. It's a really big deal for him/us - 30 years of painting. T H I R T Y !  And we're hoping for a lot of people to come and see the work and celebrate with us.

I recently had cause to take Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton off my bookshelf. It had been a while. Too long. What I like to do often when reading a journal/diary is to turn to the date that it currently is, or at least to the current month.

From May 25:

"The season is as changeable, fitful, and maddening as I am myself these days that are choked with too many demands and engagements. It is really a long time since I had what I think of as my 'real' life."

"Yesterday I managed to sow all the annuals, and to put in boxes of nicotiana, parsley, some columbine, and more pansies, fighting black flies that swarmed around my face the whole time. It was a relief to get it done, the worst spring job. Now for a while I can enjoy the garden as the great spring sequence proceeds. The daffodils are nearly over, but tulips and bleeding hearts have opened."

And again from Sarton's Journal:

May 28

"Sometimes wonderful presents arrive from nowhere. Yesterday an unknown sent me, out of the blue, a book called, Loneliness, by Clark E. Moustakas. I opened to this passage:  "I began to see that loneliness is neither good nor bad, but a point of intense and timeless awareness of the Self, a beginning which initiates totally new sensitivities and awarenesses, and which results in bringing a person deeply in touch with his own existence and in touch with others in a fundamental sense."

So much blossoming, how can we not follow suit?

“The words that make the rose bloom were also said to me.
The words told to the cypress to make it grow strong and straight.
The instructions whispered to the jasmine.
And whatever was said to the sugarcane to make it sweet.
And to the pomegranate flowers to make them blush.
The same thing is being said to me.”

- Rumi

Most of the blossoms so far have been from around the 'hood. Other people's blossoms, you could say. But below, blossoms from the Evans cherry tree in my backyard, with Tibetan prayer flags. 

And lastly, a suburban capture, from a house a few blocks away from mine. Quite sweet don't you think?


  1. Beautiful. This bit will be with me for today- But I guess this is part of the practice, pushing through and working in spite of those feelings of dissatisfaction.

    1. Thanks, Staci. The slump is lasting longer than usual. But I'm trying not to overthink it :)

  2. Congratulations to Rob on 30 years! Thanks for the heads up about The Hour of the Star - I will if I can track it down : ) How lovely to see so much blossoming here - the flowers make it seem so easy. Our lilac season is coming to a close here and the greens are becoming less varied - I sometimes wonder if this time lasted longer (as I wish it would), would I tire of seeing all those seventeen greens? Hard to imagine. XO

    1. Thanks, Leigh! I will pass on your kind words for Rob. I think you'd love The Hour of the Star.

  3. May Sarton's journal is a treasure, one of those books you find at just the right time and return to again and again with familiar comfort and fresh perspective. Thanks for reminding me!

    1. Thanks, Drew. It's that sort of book for me, too.

  4. oh my, these beautiful images just pop right off my screen! A most spectacular May and Ace seems to be enjoying it too..he has the sweetest smile on his face. I'm going to order The Hour of the Star to make sure I read it before your book comes out. And Journal of a Solitude, I have read and re-read that book so many times, it's one of my favorites by Sarton. Wishing you the best with all these wonderful events coming up! xo

    1. Would love to hear what you think of The Hour of the Star. So much fun to walk with Ace - his nose to the ground the whole time - so many smells! xo

  5. I feel the pressure of "never quite capturing things" a lot. Photo #20 (the one with the sun behind the white flowers) captures the sentiments of this month perfectly. Good job on the photos, the poetry and the painting anniversary. Time to celebrate!


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