I woke up this morning to open windows, and to the sound of bird song, which reminded me of other years of waking to bird song, and of the country, mostly in the Texas Hill Country, where watching and listening to the birds was one of our favorite occupations, as life there for us was otherwise so quiet. The open windows and the sounds of the city were what I had remembered at bedtime last night, the cars and sirens taking me to other years and other cities, most notably New York, where my open windows on the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and 121st Street let in all manner of city sounds, some days so loud I’d have to shut the windows. In New York, there were also strong city smells, and in Texas, fragrant country scents. This morning the house does smell fresher, having had it’s doors and windows open three days running.

Yesterday afternoon I took all the curtains from the day care windows and doors, and even the shelf and shower and tossed them in the wash. In the evening, I pulled fresh white cotton curtains from the washer and put them in the dryer, then pulled warm, clean, dry curtains from the dryer and dumped them on our new hand me down loveseat in the day care. Today I’ll rehang them in honor of spring.

Outside there are flowers, inside there are flowers. Several years ago, when times in my house were as hard as I might remember, I began bringing flowers home for the dining room table and for the day care. Now we have many, as well as potted plants and dried and living pussy willows in vases and dried blossoms in bowls. The whole thing is meant to remind me/us that spring is on it’s way, which it always is, and which it is always good to remember. The children were most amazed of late when the Gerbera daisy, which had been flowering when I brought it home from Whole Foods this winter, but which had only leaves for quite awhile, made a large red blossom. “It’s the first time that happened in my whole life!” exclaimed my three, who came to us as a babe in arms at just over one, and who will be one of our oldest girls next year at just over four. I was pleased to have offered her the flower, as I am pleased when the children exclaim at the rings of purple crocuses larger than ever in my front yard this year, or at the small purple myrtle flowers that barely stopped blooming this year, and which emerge, tucked under the vines, to the childrens’ delight. Yesterday there were also dandelions, which my more experienced four collected in a bunch and my less experienced three collected in a single blossom. “I want more,” he pined. “I think I’m going to keep mine for now,” she mused, without malice, I think, just needing a bunch of flowers so early in the year.

I’m hoping that besides hanging fresh curtains today, we might also celebrate the Equinox by working in the yard. Yesterday I dreamed with Alice and with a day care dad about a fence we could put alongside the broken down thing my neighbor won’t likely replace. We wondered on a piece of art to string between galvanized poles set in the landscaping timbers my former father-in-law laid along the edges of our yard. I wanted an easel, a mirror, a musical panel of tonal pipes or wood, a weaving made by the children, a wall of plants, something other than another stockade fence over which I’d likely argue with the absentee landlord of the place next door, who last time I saw him, was getting his son to chainsaw and pick axe our hedges. More spring, the yard work, the dreaming, the flowers, the birds, the art, the creation of new solutions to problems, the children discovering the world anew. Welcome.

I spent last evening just before bed sealing the envelopes for fall contracts, looking ahead to new children joining our group feels springy, too. Perhaps that’s why we do it now, rather than in summer.

This morning’s Writers’ Almanac was what reminded me that not only did it feel and sound and look like Spring, but in fact it is officially Spring. Mary Oliver reminded me how to remember again that we are of the world. Whether our windows are open in Manhattan or in Somerville or in Texas or Cape Cod, the world is out there changing all around, for the bears, for the neighbors, for the birds, and for us. Best to love it as it is, even as we do our best to make it our own.

 LISTEN

Spring

by Mary Oliver

Somewhere
a black bear
has just risen from sleep
and is staring

down the mountain.
All night
in the brisk and shallow restlessness
of early spring

I think of her,
her four black fists
flicking the gravel,
her tongue

like a red fire
touching the grass,
the cold water.
There is only one question:

how to love this world.
I think of her
rising
like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against
the silence
of the trees.
Whatever else

my life is
with its poems
and its music
and its glass cities,

it is also this dazzling darkness
coming
down the mountain,
breathing and tasting;

all day I think of her—
her white teeth,
her wordlessness,
her perfect love.

“Spring” by Mary Oliver, from New and Selected Poems. © Beacon Press, 1992. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

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