29 days

 

I am trying really hard to learn to like February.

I already yearn for these blooms, which often open this month:

flowers plant spring macro

snowdrops photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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Indeed, the snowdrops are emerging slightly; I see hints of white amid the tufts of deep-green leaves. The winterhazel buds haven’t really swelled just yet, though. Some years, we have hellebore and dwarf irises in February–it isn’t entirely drab, grey, chilly, and wet for 29 days. Reminding myself of that helps a little. Why, we had one warm and sunny day earlier in the week! The flies and stinkbugs buzzed about drowsily, and the birds made a little more noise than usual.

But part of me says–oh, wait a bit. There could be plenty of snow in March.

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March, 2018

How to allay the anticipation-stress that sits heavily on me, body and soul, this month?

J. P. Seaton’s translation of Han Shan (I own a copy of this book):

There is a man who makes a meal of rosy clouds:
where he dwells the crowds don’t ramble.
Any season is just fine with him,
the summer just like the fall.
In a dark ravine a tiny rill drips, keeping time,
and up in the pines the wind’s always sighing.
Sit there in meditation, half a day,
a hundred autumns’ grief will drop away.

~

I am not much for sitting in meditation, but Han Shan suggests it might do me some good–so that the griefs fall away, so that any season is “just fine” with me.

Worth a try…

       –anyway, it’s a short month.

Prompts

Teachers of creative writing have mixed views about the use of prompts (a prompt is an image, phrase, visual, question, or anything else meant to get a poet started in lieu of–or in addition to–“inspiration”). I have found them useful for practice; in my experience, occasionally a random prompt does result in a serviceable, or even good, poem. But I do not tend to use them regularly.

During this month of writing and posting a poem draft each and every day, I haven’t turned to prompts. I notice, though, that the drafts are perhaps more personal than I expected them to be.

This one doesn’t have a title yet:

~

Today there’s pain
opening with every blossom,
the pain of others
far from you, and also
those nearby. Even yours.
You see the world
as it is, how each bloom
attracts tiny ants
and the industrious bee,
later transforming
into hard green fruit.

Today you suffer the way
all things suffer
although you breathe
sweet air, although you
see the constant sun
now and then appearing
between dense, mobile clouds–
joy, flickering, brief,
but always possible.
Isn’t that also how
the world is? The cat’s
fur, soft beneath your
stroking thumb. Thrushes
uttering melodies for
anyone who will hear.

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Early blooms

photo by Ann E. Michael

Quince blossoms.

The strangely warm weather around this equinox has sped spring along. Above, one of my favorite ornamental shrubs, a quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) in the named variety “Tokyo Nishiki.” I love its pale blossoms that lack the orange-y hue of the more common varieties of chaenomeles.

While it’s lovely to see the sun, blue skies, and so many flowers, it is worrisome because an open winter requires–in our temperate region–a rainy spring to make up for the lack of snow-melt. Instead, we are three inches below the average precipitation for March. It is unusual to have to water the spinach bed; usually, I am instead dealing with sprouts that pop up far from the intended rows because heavy rains have dislodged them.

Of course, everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it, as the old saying goes. I am just going to wait and see what happens. Will we get our blackberry frost? Will it be a hard frost that kills off the redbuds and damages the early blossoms? Will we get a freak April blizzard to bookend our freak October blizzard? Or will we have a dry, too-warm spring that means the daffodils wilt early, few blossoms in May, and a tough summer for food crops?

I have some thoughts about gardening in drought years, but I am crossing my fingers that maybe we will get spring rains after all.

Anyone know a rain dance, chant, or prayer?