Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Apparelled in Celestial Light

In my last post I described the way the snow threatened the Magnolia blossoms. Days later, James got a job and the sun shone magnificently and I was able to plant. The Magnolia blossoms opened up after all, although plenty were singed, brown on white, like roasted marshmallows.

I try to read the trees and the skyto interpret what is writ large. This spring, after such unprecedented long and cold winter, I look at the land with suspicion. We know we are very lucky: James got a wonderful job that will allow us to stay on the land. Meanwhile, I have been reinventing myself. The temporary return to teaching (and consequent neglect of my seedlings) was an opportunity to reexamine what it is I'm supposed to be doing here. (Am I writer, teacher, homesteader?)

The homesteading project, as it has always been conceived, is dictated by what is happening right here, where the grasses and woods and gardens are. So I look around. Spring must come, but will it be what I've come to know as spring at this address? The redbud blossoms are few, the berry tree is not vibrant, the peach tree blossoms are late. In fact, all tree blossoms are disappearing more swiftly than they arrived, or, instead of heralding leaves, appearing in tandem with them. All except the Bradford pear, whose white blossoms are a comfort, but which I just learned is particularly susceptible to damage from high windsand the winds are so powerful right now that birds appear fixed in the sky when attempting to fly against them.  

Redbud, April 2014

I stand up close to confirm that the redbud is not dead... 

Redbud, April 2011

...and remember that this is what it looked like our first spring here:

Meanwhile impermanence comes to mind. I think I am reinventing myself, but everything is already in flux. Even resting DNA quivers as its hydrogen bonds swap; all life is refashioning. This means my identity crisis has been confused: to ask who am I? is to ask the wrong question. I change so often, what's remarkable is that any sense of self remains relatively steady for the duration (birth to death). We reinvent ourselves whether we are willing or not. 

Another chicken died. I was heartbroken. This winter braced me for heartache. I was in perpetual fear. Now that the sun is shining, intermittently, and the harbingers of spring have popped up, albeit sparsely, I have to relearn to hope. 

There is splendor in watching the grass grow. Will the native grasses come up this year? Will we see any partridge pea in the native grass field, as we did the first year? That field shifts in the same way our bodies swap atoms with the world. One year, it is awash in Black-eyed Susans. Another, speckled with purple coneflower. Impermanence. That, and something about how vibrant it all seemed when it was new:

    THERE was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
    The earth, and every common sight, 
    To me did seem 
    Apparelled in celestial light [...]

     But there's a Tree, of many, one, 
     A single Field which I have looked upon, 
     Both of them speak of something that is gone [...]

     O joy! that in our embers 
     Is something that doth live, 
     That nature yet remembers 
     What was so fugitive! [...]

     What though the radiance which was once so bright 
     Be now for ever taken from my sight, 
     Though nothing can bring back the hour 
     Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower; 
     We will grieve not, rather find 
     Strength in what remains behind; 
     In the primal sympathy 
     Which having been must ever be; 
     In the soothing thoughts that spring 
     Out of human suffering; 
     In the faith that looks through death  [...]

Wordsworth, signifying that even death is not the end of the story. And for the particles in motion, it's not.

Redbud, April 2011