Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spring is Divine

I absolutely fell in love with Spring when I was living in Marquette, Michigan. There the ground disappears beneath feet of snow, staring in late October. You start seeing glances of dirt or brown grass reappearing in late April. In other words, the winters were very, very long.

I can remember so clearly how spring would then burst onto the scene the first week of May. The piles of brown snow would melt rapidly and tulips and daffodils would be sprouting. The bountiful apple trees would blossom and our sheep would lamb. There is nothing more glorious than watching little lambs trying out their new legs to leaps and bounds here and there.

Here is the northwest, we are not buried beneath feet of snow for months, but beneath thick ocean clouds. That's not a bad thing as I like the melancholy of a gloomy day. and the sound of drizzle on our metal roof.

But I'm still a lover of spring. Here, spring comes earlier but no less glorious. Our cloudy skies abruptly give way to skies of total blue. Each year they seem a deeper blue than the year before.

In our valley we are surrounded by snow-capped mountains in almost a 360 degree circumference. The sea around our island, mimicking the sky above goes from a foamy gray to a brilliant blue. Now the sea is dotted with white triangles of sails.

Between the jagged, iced peaks the North Cascades, lies some of the flattest land I've ever seen. The contrast is profound. Our number one crop in this richly agriculture basin are flowers. The early Dutch settlers brought in tulips and daffodils. It is surreal to walk these fields that are so deeply purple, or red or yellow that it makes you dizzy. I would love to walk them with Van Gogh and then sit in silence as he worked his impressionistic magic on the canvas.

Spring does bring a feeling of hope eternal. Of God really being there and a future that is bright in this life and in the near more perfect earth. The worries of the winter, the pessimism all seem to melt away like that nasty brown snow of Marquette.

All this was to lead up to a poem about spring by Frost.

A Prayer in Spring
Robert Frost (1915)
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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


Becky said...

Amen. We've had a winter more like your Michigan winter here this year (minus a couple months, fortunately)that has finally broken. I've been on a Wendell Berry kick recently ... had heard about him for a couple of years, but finally got around to reading him. Made me think of your recent literature exploration and wonder if you had read him. Anyway ... a poem by Wendell Berry:

Great deathly powers have passed:
The black and bitter cold, the wind
That broke and felled strong trees, the rind
Of ice that held at last

Even the fleshly heart
In cold that made it seem a stone.
And now there comes again the one
First Sabbath light, the Art

That unruled, uninvoked,
Unknown, makes new again and heals,
Restores heart's flesh so that it feels
Anew the old deadlocked

Goodness of its true home
That it will lose again and mourn,
Remembering the year reborn
In almost perfect bloom

In almost shadeless wood
Sweet air that neither burned nor chilled
In which the tenderest flowers prevailed,
The light made flesh and blood.

Wendell Berry, A Timbered Choir, "1980: III"

Anonymous said...

In the same spirit -- here is my favorite e.e. cummings poem:

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
wich is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Happy spring!

MJ said...

Both of those, new to me, and very, very nice.