Two years ago in May we travelled to Toronto to see the High Park cherry blossoms, joining hundreds of others in a spring viewing. This May the blossoms may thrive in a more peaceful setting, in the wake of COVID19…only time will tell.
Lately I’ve found a new pastime that is almost addictive. With little snips of blunt-nosed scissors I have been trimming my dog’s hair, enjoying the satisfaction of a slow transformation while nurturing his trust and patience. I don’t have stranger privileges or the physical restraints of a professional groomer. I am one of his parents…each hair is taken with his consent.
February. Browsing the blog reader I read of snowdrops and daffodils….in other places. Here, the temperature plunges to 20 below and we adjust. By late winter we know well-rehearsed adjustments: we plan departures 10 minutes early to allow time to warmup the car, I toss extra comforters everywhere, and my old ski pants re-report for duty. The trampoline rhythm of hard to soft cold is almost routine.
A significant jolt will come when temperatures stay above 5 degrees and climb higher. Metabolisms, opportunities, and menus will change in ways we may have forgotten since last spring…
This morning scene reminds me to fill the seed bucket, put on my boots and wade out to top up the feeders.
Yesterday was Martin Luther King day in the United States. From Frank Tassone’s Haikai Challenge I learned that this holiday is designated as a day of service—a ‘day on’ rather than a ‘day off’, inspired by Doctor Reverend King Junior’s example and praise of community service: “He who is greatest among you shall be a servant.”
My first impulse was to dust off my dormant question “should I take on a volunteer job?” On reflection, my view of service, in general, and my own service, in particular, has deepened. Many of us, including myself, care for immediate and extended families. Yet there is another kind of service that extends into the community, outside our homes. ‘Out there’ are more people, trees, meadows, roadways, recycle bins, wildlife, wandering pets and so on. Without taking on a job there are many opportunities to act for the benefit of our world—to give, to protect, to show by our actions that we care about all humans and the world we depend on, whether natural or manmade. That sense of the collective is what I take away from this Martin Luther King day, an appreciation of what I already do and the humility to know that more is a possibility.
Expanses of water surround the house in the fields below. It has been raining since yesterday. Most snow has washed away leaving only patches of ice that foreshadow the drama to come. Thanks to the science of meteorology, it won’t be a surprise when tonight the temperature starts to descend in measured steps to zero C…minus 1…minus 2…minus 3…minus 4…minus 6…minus 7…minus 8…landing at minus 9 on Monday morning. Freezing rain, snow, black ice, and power outages are on the way.
I drive by rigid trees cased with ice. I feel the weight on their limbs, the pending risk of breakage. There is no magic sparkle of sunlight to mask their imprisoned state. And on the News I hear of dark skies filled with smoke…Australia’s burning bush.
At first I skirt around the Requiem. I am looking for music by Fauré that is as beautiful as the Pavane I heard the other day, but I am not sure I am in the mood for somber choral music. Clicking on the options, the Requiem’s closing section, In Paradisum, plays and I find it fits my mood after all … on this quiet day in late December, when the first year of a new decade will soon begin.
While I doubt Paradise is on the immediate horizon, longer days and spring are on the way…and as long as I breathe, there are opportunities to live a bit better, to offer more.
“…we took rooms at an inn with…Mr. Kansho, who was in town to attend memorial services for the haiku poet Issho, locally renowned for his verse and devotion to craft. The poet’s elder brother served as host, the poet having died last winter.
Tremble, oh my grave–
in time my cries will be
only this autumn wind”
Basho, “Narrow Road to the Interior,” translated by Sam Hamill, the Essential Basho, p. 29-30; an excerpt from Frank Tassone’s selection for Day 20 of November with Basho
Matsuo Basho had no idea that his words would still be known and cherished, in Japan and beyond, over 300 years after his death.