Posts Tagged ‘Spring’

It Was an April Morning

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

For the birthday of William Wordsworth (1770-1850); I post an excerpt from “Poems on the Naming of Places,” accompanied by a sketch made on a family bike ride. Not while pedaling though.


It was an April morning: fresh and clear
The Rivulet, delighting in its strength,
Ran with a young man’s speed; and yet the voice
Of waters which the winter had supplied
Was softened down into a vernal tone.
The spirit of enjoyment and desire,
And hopes and wishes, from all living things
Went circling, like a multitude of sounds.
The budding groves seemed eager to urge on
The steps of June; as if their various hues
Were only hindrances that stood between
Them and their object: but, meanwhile, prevailed
Such an entire contentment in the air
That every naked ash, and tardy tree
Yet leafless, showed as if the countenance
With which it looked on this delightful day
Were native to the summer…

—William Wordsworth

You can read the poem in entirety here.

For a mini-bio of Wordsworth, please see My Heart Leaps Up. For another painting and favorite poem, please see Dancing with the Daffodils.


April Fool

Monday, April 1st, 2013


This day in celebration of pranks and tomfoolery, which dates back several hundred years in Europe (and which also appears in some non-European cultures at the turning of the year from winter to spring—a kind of universal spring fever), in France is called Poisson d’Avril. Here are a few April Fool pranks from around the world.

In our family the most successful prank was played by my husband who, glancing outside one April 1 morning, exclaimed excitedly, “A lion’s escaped from the zoo!” sending us all rushing in astonishment to the window. After all, the zoo is only a block away… He still chuckles about that one.




Arise, My Love, My Fair One

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Yesterday my husband brought me a bouquet of flowers from which to choose for my next seasonal still-life: tulips, daffodils, and Siberian iris, the latter still tightly in bud. When I came into the studio today on this first morning of spring, I found that the iris had completely unfurled overnight and stood grand and purple among her pink and gold companions, ready for exclamations of admiration and the sketchbook. Happy Spring, everyone! May your blossoms unfold in the night.


My beloved spake, and said unto me,
Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come,
and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;

The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.
Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.

—Song of Solomon 2:10-13

Spring Ahead!

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Sigh. Lose that hour, folks.


CakeBerries2Aunt Mary



My name is written in blossoms

Sunday, May 6th, 2012


Who would have guessed, years ago, when I made this sketch of artistic, musical, multi-talented, other-worldly pre-Raphaelite Hallie (then in Middle School), that she would now be embarking upon a double Master’s Degree in Physics and Education with the intention of teaching science in inner-city schools? Happy Birthday, Hallie! and many good wishes.

Here is a May poem for this day.

Hark! The sea-faring wild-fowl loud proclaim
My coming, and the swarming of the bees.
These are my heralds, and behold! my name
Is written in blossoms on the hawthorn-trees.
I tell the mariner when to sail the seas;
I waft o’er all the land from far away
The breath and bloom of the Hesperides,
My birthplace. I am Maia. I am May.

—Arthur Symons, from The Poet’s Calendar


May Revelries

Saturday, May 5th, 2012


Unlike the Winter Revels, the May Revels is always held outdoors, and I recall the days when, on the first Sunday in May, Brandywine Street here in Washington DC was closed to traffic, decked with garlands of flowers, and temporarily transformed into an Olde English Village. Nowadays the May Revels is frequently a component of Washington Cathedral’s annual Flower Mart, and, although of smaller scale, is still a lovely opportunity to watch a mummers’ play, sing, and dance around the Maypole. (And you can also visit the Flower Mart, whose featured country this year is Jamaica.)

This sketch is from a May Revels that took place at the National Audubon Society.


CakeDaisiesAunt Francie


Here We Come A-Piping

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

For May Day, a poem for you to chant, and a sketch of the LAST lily-of-the valley in my garden. (They popped out strangely early this year.)

In some countries, the first of May is a holiday in commemoration of the international labor movement, marked by rallies, marches, and parades in recognition of the worker, sometimes followed by picnics and dancing. This latter activity harkens back to the far more ancient festival of the first of May, which, like Groundhog Day and Dia de los Muertos, falls roughly halfway between an equinox and a solstice.

For May the first is (what else?!) a happy acknowledgement of the arrival of spring and its attendant burgeoning fertility. At last the winter is truly behind us, and the world is so fresh and green and blooming that sitting indoors at a computer seems an act of madness. Shut it down, doff the heels/necktie, deck yourself with a crown of flowers and skip about in the gentle spring sunshine, celebrating the world’s inexhaustible and optimistic fruitfulness.


Here we come a-piping,
In Springtime and in May;
Green fruit a-ripening,
And Winter fled away.
The Queen she sits upon the strand,
Fair as lily, white as wand;
Seven billows on the sea,
Horses riding fast and free,
And bells beyond the sand.




Double-Cherry Trees, March

Friday, March 30th, 2012

As the single-blossom cherry trees shed their pink snow, the double-cherry trees come into bloom. Here is the companion piece I created for a commission of a two-season house portrait. For the autumn portrait, please see Double-Cherry Trees, November.


Spring, the Sweet Spring

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Whether you awakened this morning to blazing heat or a fresh fall of snow, today is officially the first day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Here to celebrate the day are a cherry blossom sketch from my sketchbook and a poem by Thomas Nashe.

At this turning of the year I like to remember Louis J. Halle (1911-1988), author of the magical and engaging Spring in Washington, a journal of early-spring biking and quiet observation that opens our eyes to the timeless natural world surrounding, and oblivious to, the evanescent heap of brick and concrete within which we burrow. (I hope you can manage to think of our bureaucratic city as magical and engaging. ‘Tis a transformative season.)

For a mini-bio of Halle, please see A Capital Spring. And a merry cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo to you!


Spring, the sweet spring, is the year’s pleasant king,
Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring,
Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing:
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The palm and may make country houses gay,
Lambs frisk and play, the shepherds pipe all day,
And we hear aye birds tune this merry lay:
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The fields breathe sweet, the daisies kiss our feet,
Young lovers meet, old wives a-sunning sit,
In every street these tunes our ears do greet:
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to witta-woo!

—Thomas Nashe

Gone were but the Winter

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Each day of this increasingly warm weather brings something else into bloom and new subjects to paint. Hard to believe that it’s officially still winter for nearly another week.

To accompany this painting, a poem by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894).

And today is the birthday of literary patron and Shakespeare and Company founder Sylvia Beach. For a sketch and a mini-bio, please see Paris Memory.


Gone were but the Winter,
Come were but the Spring,
I would go to a covert
Where the birds sing;

Where in the whitethorn
Singeth a thrush,
And a robin sings
In the holly-bush.

Full of fresh scents
Are the budding boughs
Arching high over
A cool green house:

Full of sweet scents,
And whispering air
Which sayeth softly:
“We spread no snare;

“Here dwell in safety,
Here dwell alone,
With a clear stream
And a mossy stone.

“Here the sun shineth
Most shadily;
Here is heard an echo
Of the far sea,
Though far off it be.”

—Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)