Le printemps arrive

I often look around my house and wonder, “Where am I? Is this my house? Do I live in Alaska?” So much of the transition of past year feels surreal, that I often find myself floating somewhere above the surface of the earth, surveying my surroundings, and simply scratching my head in disbelief.

With this disbelief lives an uncertainty and almost distrust with which I have been viewing the changing of the seasons. Was this past winter in Gustavus real? What is spring but another version of winter? The air still feels cold, the shrubs in my yard devoid of any signs of life, my heart aching and tears ready to spill without a moment’s warning. My rational mind tells me that change in the natural world, as well as change from within, can follow such subtle, gradual steps as to seem absent one day and appear beyond the shadow of a doubt the next.

I want to believe in the light, the joy I know exists in every frozen molecule of water on the bird feeder that provides at least partial sustenance to the siskins, chickadees, and juncos whose cacophony of voices tell me it must be spring.

A friend recently told me that when she feels herself overwhelmed with melancholy and negativity, she repeats the word “gratitude” over and over in her mind and embraces all she is grateful for.

Et bien.

In this life, I am grateful for:

The rufous hummingbirds who have traveled as far north as Ketchikan and for whom I have already placed a welcome mat in the form of a hummingbird feeder with fresh sugar water hanging over my back porch.

The people in my community – both near and far – who remind me daily that I am a beautiful artist, a sensitive soul, and that things will get better.

The Greater Yellowlegs who just arrived at the lagoon outside park headquarters and who I have watched bob up and down and plunge its beak with such determination as only evolution could inspire.

The people who share with me their bird sightings and passion for life outside the human realm.

Change as a constant, rebirth and renewal, and the promise of light.

The spring season that will announce itself in no uncertain terms when I least suspect it.


a black bear
has just risen from sleep
and is staring

down the mountain.
All night
in the brisk and shallow restlessness
of early spring

I think of her,
her four black fists
flicking the gravel,
her tongue

like a red fire
touching the grass,
the cold water.
There is only one question:

how to love this world.
I think of her
like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against
the silence
of the trees.
Whatever else

my life is
with its poems
and its music
and its cities,

it is also this dazzling darkness
down the mountain,
breathing and tasting;

all day I think of her –
her white teeth,
her wordlessness,
her perfect love.

~ Mary Oliver

1 thought on “Le printemps arrive

  1. Gus and Sylvia Martinez April 5, 2011 — 9:33 pm

    Wonderful musings, and welcome to the melancholy that we all face, for change is inevitable, my children will grow up and leave, I will get old and feel the ache of age. I also enjoy the fact that I have a great life and wonderful family and friends that are a part of this web, and I include you.. thanks for sharing.

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