When we received this gift two weeks ago, it happened to be the first day that actually smelled like spring, despite the wind rattling the shutters and the fire burning in the fireplace.
Here is a Billy Collins poem to go with the sketch (which is a detail from March 3rd’s post). Happy First Day of Spring, everyone in the Northern Hemisphere.
If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze
that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house
and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,
a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies
seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking
a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,
releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage
so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting
into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.
Lynn and Donald
Here is a new calendar for 2015, each month featuring one of my seasonal still-lifes. I’m taking orders, but unfortunately they have to be received by Sept. 9th for me to place the order. Not much time, I’m afraid! Next year there will be more advance notice. Please contact me if you have any questions. Your calendar will reach you before the end of September. Shipping is 2-day Priority Mail, domestic US. (But if you are in my area you can get it from me directly without shipping!)
For Mothers Day, the family is obliged to go on an outing of my choosing, and this year it was the beautiful gardens of Dumbarton Oaks, all dressed up in their spring finery. Here my husband and daughter find an unusual rest stop above the cutting garden west of the Prunus Walk.
And also for Mothers Day, a poem by George Bilgere, “Laundry,” of which I did none today.
My mother stands in this black
And white arrangement of shadows
In the sunny backyard of her marriage,
Struggling to pin the white ghosts
Of her family on the line.
I watch from my blanket on the grass
As my mother’s blouses lift and billow,
Bursting with the day.
My father’s white work shirts
Wave their empty sleeves at me,
And my own little shirts and pants
Flap and exult like flags
In the immaculate light.
It is mid-century, and the future lies
Just beyond the white borders
Of this snapshot; soon that wind
Will get the better of her
And her marriage. Soon the future
I live in will break
Through those borders and make
A photograph of her-but
For now the shirts and blouses
Are joyous with her in the yard
As she stands with a wooden clothespin
In her mouth, struggling to keep
The bed sheets from blowing away.
Here is a sketch of our snowy spring garden—but it’s unfortunately not enough of a snowfall to “hide wholly from view” our newly delivered city trash and recycling bins, freshly painted by my husband and son with the house number.
Let the old snow be covered with the new:
The trampled snow, so soiled, and stained, and sodden.
Let it be hidden wholly from our view
By pure white flakes, all trackless and untrodden.
When Winter dies, low at the sweet Spring’s feet
Let him be mantled in a clean, white sheet.
Let the old life be covered by the new:
The old past life so full of sad mistakes,
Let it be wholly hidden from the view
By deeds as white and silent as snow-flakes.
Ere this earth life melts in the eternal Spring
Let the white mantle of repentance fling
Soft drapery about it, fold on fold,
Even as the new snow covers up the old.
—Ella Wheeler Wilcox
It has arrived!
In honor of the first day of Spring, a poem by Robert Frost, and a painting.
A Prayer in Spring
Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.
And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.
For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.
Lynn & Donald
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…
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.
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.
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
Sigh. Lose that hour, folks.
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