Perpetual Spring

Spring ordinarily is death’s antithesis, as surely as it is winter’s.

At the end of our family’s harshest winter, my dying husband’s heart improbably would not let go of us. It refused to take its last beats until, at least by the calendar, winter had at last elided into the season of growing green that he had always tended to.

Just four days later, the snow had melted entirely away. That afternoon, in a sun-soaked Spring service at her school, one of our daughters read “A Man,” written by poet Louis Untermeyer after his father’s death: “I thought of you…. / And it was like a great wind blowing / Over confused and poisonous places. / It was like sterile spaces / Crowded with birds and grasses, soaked clear through / With sunlight, quiet and vast and clean. / And it was forests growing, / And it was black things turning green.”

One of her brothers read Amy Gerstler’s “In Perpetual Spring,” which ends with an expression of “the faith that for every hurt / there is a leaf to cure it.”  

Spring was my husband’s season–although all seasons were, in their way and his. He would rotate his birdfeeders’ weekly specials to accommodate anticipated guests, and make sure our porch was off limits to humans when robins began building their nests in a favorite corner of the 1805 ornamental molding atop its pillars.

The fruit trees he had planted would begin to bloom. His vegetables and fruits would soon make their way into the world. Armored khaki orbs of quince would drink in April showers and grow so heavy that they bowed the thick branches which hosted them. At their greatest girth, they often settled together on the ground, still attached at their stems to their sturdy trees. They congregated there like meditating buddhas, to be sniffed at by our perplexed beagles. Sour bruised blue-black grapes and fuzzed raspberries and peaches would cluster.

In true winter I would survey once colorful leaves entombed under ice, and headless bush branches and empty trees and abandoned robins’ nests. I would be certain none of them could be brought to life again, to bear peaches and sour apples and cartoonishly colorful hydrangea and rhododendrons. But in Spring they somehow still do.

Even that Spring.

Since that singular March day twelve years ago, true Spring arrives for me not on the designated calendar date, but whenever I spot the first fully-bloomed flower. In New England, that has invariably been a crocus.

I picture it gingerly poking its way through richly layered leaves glossy with melting snow, as if doubting whether it truly is time to be visible and vulnerable. But once it peeks out above the dense autumn detritus, its lavender or buttered white soup-ladle petals relax, and it theatrically basks in the sun. A Fantasia character come to life, for as long as the light lasts.

Spring came a few days early this year.

An Olive Sunset

An olive sunset/The first ever I’ve witnessed/feathered autumn hues

Finally, a haiku writing challenge!  Faithful readers are aware of my unfortunate/propensity for haiku/on odd occasions.

Haiku, it is been reported (by at least one chipper laboratory rat), is among poetic forms so powerful as to possess healing powers.

Here, in haiku form, are five sights for which I am thankful this week:


His brethren flew off

One plump stalwart remained, perched



Awaiting late flight

Driving rain, Boston traffic

Still magical light


Coral twilight’s masts

Vertical, horizontal

Lines of land and sea

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Vivid horizon

 Afternoon sky mottled by

Clouds like shed snake skin 


Curled against the cold

Beagle brothers share nap time

Lit by dazzling sun


(Weekly Photo Challenge: Carefree) The Art of Basking in the Sun

I don’t know if domesticated animals sense they are missing something by virtue of their association with companion humans who persist in retrieving them when they venture too far from home.

But could any sentient beagle believe he would live a happier life in the wild than under my daughter’s care?  For them the technicality of freedom surely could not make their lives more carefree.

I also don’t know if wild animals are dispirited by captivity when they are in seemingly tender hands and gorgeous zoological facilities.   

It is hard for me to believe that the art of being carefree could be practiced any better than it is by animals–domestic or wild–basking and dozing in the summer sun, scampering into the sea, enfolding themselves among each other after a satisfying catered meal, reaching into winter’s white sunlight for a belly tickle, or snuggling peacefully at our sides as we sink into fitfully fevered sleep.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Companionable

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It is difficult to believe that Solitario Jorge did not lament his solitude until he was lost, although that may be a Shakespearean artifact of my inclination to anthropomorphism.

Do animals grieve the absence of their children, their mates, their companions?  I know our convivial beagles miss Jim, who would take them out running, where others only walk (or, like yours truly, are pulled forward and off her own feet by) them.  Because we’d never see them again if they were off-leash, perhaps running at that speed with Jim gave them the illusion of being untethered–of something like flight.   

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One can live alone, of course.  In America people seem to be doing so in unprecedented numbers.  But living alone does not mean living without companionship–the company of colleagues, friends, children, siblings,  parents, animals; of transporting works of literature, music and art.

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(And any Tennessee Williams fan knows one may even occasionally  find oneself in the company of and relying on the kindness of strangers. . . .even armed ones.)

Thinking of life’s companions inescapably brings me back to John Hiatt:

Red tail hawk shooting down the canyon
Put me on that wind he rides
I will be your true companion
When we reach the other side . . . .




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