On my mother’s birthday, I always bake her an apple pie in honor of the hundreds of apple pies she made for us, and we light a candle and sing, our voices some years joined by those of friends (thank you Karla, Rob, Kathy, and Ivan). I’m sure my mother is getting much better pie in the Great Beyond, but we continue the earthly tradition. Happy birthday, Mom!
How did our baby girl come to be FIFTEEN? Yet here she stands, strong, quick-witted, lovely, and nearly my height; by spring she’ll be taller than I.
For her birthday today I post a sketch made on a summertime bike ride. I see it now symbolically, as her gazing into her future: shining, expansive, full of promise. (I hope that doesn’t mean her parents are the two old stumps on the riverbank.) Here also is a tender poem by Mark Jarman, “Prayer for our Daughters.”
May they never be lonely at parties
Or wait for mail from people they haven’t written
Or still in middle age ask God for favors
Or forbid their children things they were never forbidden.
May hatred be like a habit they never developed
And can’t see the point of, like gambling or heavy drinking.
If they forget themselves, may it be in music
Or the kind of prayer that makes a garden of thinking.
May they enter the coming century
Like swans under a bridge into enchantment
And take with them enough of this century
To assure their grandchildren it really happened.
May they find a place to love, without nostalgia
For some place else that they can never go back to.
And may they find themselves, as we have found them,
Complete at each stage of their lives, each part they add to.
May they be themselves, long after we’ve stopped watching.
May they return from every kind of suffering
(Except the last, which doesn’t bear repeating)
And be themselves again, both blessed and blessing.
Yesterday was the birthday of Irish playwright and poet John Millington Synge (1871-1909) and today the anniversary of my mother’s passing. To honor both the poet and the gardener, I post this poem and a new painting.
May seven tears in every week,
Touch the hollow of your cheek,
That I—signed with such a dew—
For the Lion’s share may sue
Of roses ever curled
Round the may-pole of the world.
Heavy riddles lie in this,
Sorrow’s sauce for every kiss.
—John Millington Synge
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.
When part of our back yard tree fell during Hurricane Sandy, while cutting it up my husband called me to look at the abandoned nest within, which I saved to sketch. It seems appropriate to post it, along with his verse, on the birthday of Victor Hugo (1802-1885).
Soyez comme l’oiseau
Posé pour un instant
Sur des rameaux trop frêles
Qui sent plier la branche
Et qui chante pourtant
Sachant qu’il a des ailes.
Be like the bird, who
Halting in his flight
On limb too slight
Feels it give way beneath him
Knowing he hath wings.