“the secret of secrets”

merton beauty

I know I write the same things every year, how I go out to the garden and the apple tree is just beginning to bloom (here, for example), or the lizards are mating (here), or I am listening to birdsong (here), and I know that there is a kind of sameness to my posts. But honestly? Is there a way to say how you forget, almost, over the dark winter days and nights, how lovely apple blossom is when you see the first tight clumps begin to open, or when you get out of your car at the local pool and hear warblers, yellow-rumped warblers, and looking up into the big-leaf maples, you don’t see the birds but you realize that the flowers have come out, the fat chartreuse clusters, in just the past week, and that’s why the tree is filled with music, anyway, is there another way? If I could paint, I know I’d be out there with ink and colour wash, trying to put it all down on paper, fine watercolour paper, and if I could think my way into music more deeply, I’d try to notate the songs and sing with the warblers, the red-winged blackbirds, the robins on fine spring mornings, with bars devoted to sapsucker pairs buzzing back and forth, and even the klooks of ravens in lazy circles above the trees where nestlings lie low in their shadow. (Instead, I listen to this.) You forget, and the days and nights are long, and dark, you forget, and then one day it is all in front of you again, inside you again, and you remember a poem you have always loved, Anna Akhmatova’s “A Land Not Mine” and its sublime conclusion (in Jane Kenyon’s translation):

Sunset in the ethereal waves:
I cannot tell if the day
is ending, or the world, or if
the secret of secrets is inside me again.

Instead, I make my notes on old envelopes and share them here with you.

6 thoughts on ““the secret of secrets””

  1. I photograph the same things each year because they are beautiful and a welcome change. Icicles, daffodils, roses, maple leaves. I love the seasons, the variations. We may not have a comfortable climate but it is more interesting this way.

    1. Now that I have a cell phone, I’m amused when the photo app reminds me of this time last year (I’ve only had it a year) and I see the same photographs! John has had one longer and so he has the pleasure of seeing that he’s photographed the same things from exactly the same position — driveway, looking at wisteria (that’s in May!), tulips by the little table where we have our late-afternoon glass of wine (now!), snow on the big firs out the kitchen window (January). I know in future I will have a whole year of the Steller’s jays coming for their breakfasts by the big glass doors to the deck. The same jays, or their children! And in another month, the early roses….

  2. I do the same thing — write each year about the same things. I can’t help it. I also photograph those same things, each year.

    Last week, for most of the week, the alders here were popping open everywhere. It’s the first time I’ve felt transported back to my prairie roots. That fragrance was just like the aspens and other poplars in the boreal forest. THAT is the sweet smell of spring I’ve known for the first 50 years of my life.

Leave a Reply to John Marsh Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s