These May mornings are gifts, the sun over Mount Hallowell around 8:30, birdsong loud where the woods meet our garden. I walked out this morning and heard myself (as though from a distance) singing a song I’ve written about before, another May, about the meadows and flowers gay and whom should I spy but my own true lover, and I thought how a month can contain so many versions of itself. The Mays we travelled to Ottawa to see our family there, the Mays when we celebrated the arrival of new books or the nomination of others for prizes,
the Mays when we went into Vancouver for prize galas or concerts or just to see friends. This May is different. But still lovely. And it will enter the long archive of memories—the 14th month of a world-altering pandemic, the first month when the seedlings were grown in the greenhouse,
the month when I thought to myself, why just built teepees for the beans, why not make sculptural supports and let the beans find a new way of using their tendrils,
because maybe they’re eager to break out of old patterns. It’s a month of salad greens, most of them growing on a wild-edged cedar bench on the upper deck (because in the garden this time of year, it’s hard to protect them against slugs),
and what a pleasure it is to take a colander up to cut arugula, lettuce, mixed greens (but not the tray of Triomphe de Farcy beans on the end of the bench, ready to try out the new tree of arbutus branches left by the butchers who keep the Hydro road clear where we walk on the mountain (young trees hacked to pieces, the patch of miner’s lettuce gone), a piece of old wisteria, some ocean spray–ironwood in some lexicons). I walked out this bright May morning, coffee in hand, singing an old song (“When misfortune falls sure no man can shun it’), among the seedlings and birdsong, the month a version of itself, like the others but new, new, shadowed momentarily as a cloud passes the sun, birds quiet for a few seconds only, a small snake curled around itself in warm moss beneath a huckleberry bush.