It looks like we’re in for a real spring this year. And I am once more taking up my plans for the back yard…
I probably should have been doing all the laundry this weekend. Instead, I painted.
I painted this…
Because that’s what I really wanted to do.
I also decided that one wall of my office could double as a drying rack / storage area for paintings until they found new homes.
I’m even hanging some blank canvases in spots until I fill them up.
And that gold-framed mirror over on the left wall? That’s there for when I want to start trying my hand at painting faces. I guess I’ll start with mine.
We are reveling in spring here in Michigan.
It feels like such a blessing after a very long winter that reached its grasping, scraping fingernails into April and was reluctant to let go.
But now, our spring flowers are in bloom.
Our foliage is stretching out to greet the sun.
And our feeders are being visited by exciting birds I rarely get to see, like orioles…
…and rose-breasted grosbeaks.
Along with our more common visitors: cardinals, blue jays, sparrows, house finches, chickadees, downy woodpeckers, and goldfinches.
We even get to see quite a lot of the neighborhood turkey, who likes hanging out in our back yard and our neighbor’s in the morning.
The poor thing is rather frightened of my little chihuahua mix (all seven pounds of her) and seems utterly dumbfounded by fences.
The view out of my upstairs office window is improving day by day as the trees leaf out.
Even the rainy days are rather warm. The daffodils and scilla and crocuses are all gone now, but tulips and grape hyacinth are hanging on, and the flowering trees are just past peak. Rivers and creeks are running high with much rain. My thoughts turn outward, toward summer travel plans, as they always do this time of year.
In about five weeks or so, my sister and I will be hiking the Porcupine Mountains, one of the stops my son and I made on our epic UP Road Trip last June. Our chosen path will take us along rushing rivers, past seven waterfalls, along the shore of Lake Superior, along escarpments, and through forests that will be weeks behind in terms of new growth (which means we’ll get to experience this marvelous spring a second time). Our campsites will have us sleeping alongside the Little Carp River, on Lake Superior at the mouth of Toledo Creek, and up on the escarpment not far from the Lake of the Clouds.
Rocks and rivers, woods and waterfalls. 60,000 acres of wilderness. Time to reflect, to rest our minds and busy our feet. Alison and I look forward to our hiking trip each year. We’ve been lots of places. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Grand Sable Dunes, Tahquamenon Falls, the Manistee River, the Jordan River Valley.
The Porkies have been on our Someday List. It takes a long time to drive there (nearly 9 hours drive time from my house in the state capital, plus time for rest stops and meals) so you need two extra days built in just to get there and back. Thankfully, timing seems to have worked out in our favor this year.
I guess after this, we may have to start saving our money to fly to more trails further away!
It’s twelve degrees warmer this morning in mid-Michigan than it is in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In fact, we’ve had a string of unseasonably warm days. Last week we had a rapid melt of over a foot of snow, plus two days of steady rain, causing the Grand and Red Cedar Rivers to flood. There were small-scale evacuations in neighborhoods near the rivers. And then we had three days in a row that felt like early May.
We’ll be back down in the 40s for the first couple weeks of March, which is more appropriate for this time of year, and there are still some snow showers in the forecast, but not much. I understand that groundhog saw his shadow way back at the beginning of the month, but I guess marmots are not the best prognosticators of global weather patterns.
I’m always happy to see February drift away in the rear view mirror. This year I have spent most of the month on moving rooms around in my house. A small, enclosed staircase with a right angle is part of the reason it took so long. The crazy weather is another. The stairs mean large items must go in/out an exterior door on the second floor that leads out to the roof of the smoke room, and up and down a ladder propped against it. Which, of course, you can’t safely do in a foot of snow and ice, nor in a deluge.
Everything big is safe and sound in its new room. Finally. After all, I’ve been planning for this move since July of last year, drawing schematics and making lists of the order in which things would have to be moved.
Now we’re down to the little stuff:
- our son’s old karate belts, which we’ve been meaning to get into a display case
- a small file cabinet that is mostly filled with things that could be stored in the attic or tossed
- the light we removed from the old office/new bedroom that we’re going to put up in the living room
- a random assortment of items that belong somewhere in my son’s new room, but we’re not just sure where yet
I could probably get it all done in a day, but since every spare moment of February has been spent on this project, I actually need to pause and spend some concentrated time on my other big project: first edits on my debut novel, which are due to my editor in twelve days. (Psst, if you missed it because you’re not on my newsletter mailing list, the new title is We Hope for Better Things.)
Hopefully soon we’ll have the last bits of our lives put back together and I can take some pictures to share with you. I’m happy with how well it’s turning out.
And I’m thrilled that, like February, it’s almost done.
It’s been marvelously, beautifully, gloriously spring around these parts.
Everything’s pushing up and out, drinking in the sun and rain.
It’s wave after wave of flowers.
Each week something else takes center stage.
Every leaf is fresh and new.
Every bud a gift that opens on its own.
April is the poem the earth writes in flowers.
What a week. Enough flu for everyone.
Thankfully there have been flowers as well, both inside…
The earliest blooms are out in the back yard gardens. The Lenten Rose (hellebores)…
…and the Siberian Squill (scilla)…
…and these tiny little guys, who have made themselves quite at home in one of my beds…
They’re a weed called Veronica Speedwell I’ve decided to let stay because I need groundcover in that spot anyway and have had limited success with the plants I actually planted in this very sunny, dry area. We’ll see what they do the rest of the year. If they behave nicely, I may keep them. They can be invasive, though, so I may regret it later.
At any rate, I’m still in no shape to deal with getting the garden cleaned up for spring. It’s on its own for a few more days at least as I recover fully from the flu. It’s a shame to have wasted some perfect gardening days sitting in a stupor inside, but there it is. Nothing can be done about it.
While recovering, I was lucid enough to enjoy two literary moments of significance. First, I got my latest manuscript back from the German translator who was helping me translate certain lines of dialogue into correct German, and also helping me with the elements of the plot which touch on translation issues between English and German. She had some very nice things to say about the manuscript and encouraged me to let her know when it found a publisher so she could tell her editors to be on the lookout for the translation rights. It was a wonderful boost of confidence for me as she is the first person who has actually read it in full.
The second moment came the next day, Sunday, when I received an email from one of the editors of The Lyric poetry magazine accepting one of my poems for a future issue. I don’t have any details yet, but I’ll be sure to share more when I know more.
And then Sunday night I felt normal enough to paint.
I based this painting on a photo I took years ago over a field in the Grand Ledge area before sunrise back when I was occasionally picking up a friend early in the morning to carpool to Grand Rapids. There was that glow in the sky that just precedes the sun, and a fine mist among the distant trees. One of those moments that is so fleeting and that you rarely get to experience when your house is smack dab in the city like ours.
So, I’m basically feeling normal now. I’m back to work (at home, as always) and though it is the beginning of Spring Break, the house is finally empty after our week of sickness. My husband has taken our son and the neighbor boy off on an adventure and my only companion is my canary, Alistair. I have a full inbox to deal with and some laundry that needs a kickstart. Time to brew a cup of coffee and see if I really am indeed back to normal — the worst part of the flu has been that my taste buds (we actually call them taste bites in this family) seem to be confused and coffee is the most dire casualty. Good, dark roast coffee has tasted like diner coffee with almost-turned cream. I’m hoping today might be the day everything gets back to normal…
We’re on the cusp of something. The March winds are stirring things up. Dry leaves rattle along the road and hold desperately to one another on my patio. The birds have tuned their voices. The sky is a pure, beautiful blue.
Spring makes us consider the possibilities of a well-edited wardrobe and surprises us with the fact that, even after last year’s big clothing purge, we can still find more than eight bags worth of clothes to donate.
It has us thinking about getting a standing desk and reorganizing the office (again). It calls little canaries to fly back and forth in their cages at great speed. It awakens the poet within.
Spring whispers in our ears that there is a difference between contentment and complacence. That safe is not better than soul-stirring. That horizons are meant to be chased.
Spring shows us that we need less than we think to be happy. That there is more to life than what we see in it at this moment.
It’s the restless, in-between time that makes dreamers of us all.