Springtime awakening

May 6, 2009 at 3:39 pm | Posted in writing | Leave a comment
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Standing by the creek, you can hear the quiet splash of water flowing.

Standing by the creek, you can hear the quiet splash of water flowing.

The scene I’m working on is resisting me—not quite sure why yet, though I just scrapped the 1500 or so words I had written on it and started it afresh from a different POV. That feels better, but the resistance is still there. I think it might just be loss of momentum—I have to push through and get back into it. But for now, I’m taking a brief “blog break.”

These past couple of days, it’s like my senses have been awakened with the spring. Not that I’ve been senseless before this, but in retrospect, my appreciation of the winter was all about the crisp clarity of bare, filigreed branches and starkly exquisite detail, against a cool palette of whites, blues and sparkling ice. It felt refined, aesthetic and cerebral, though my appreciation was no less profound for all that.

Spring is different. The Ontario spring is brief, electric, colourful—like a jolt in the arm. And suddenly, I’m noticing smells, textures, colour.

Breezes cool but not arctic, whispering across the bare skin of my arms as I pull up the healthy crop of garlic mustard that has sprung up under two of our trees. The air is redolent with the smell of garlic from the plants. The cold of the moist earth in my fingers as I get at the root and tug, gently. There’s either an exquisite sense of release, as the root yields and emerges whole, or a quiet, disappointing “pop” as it breaks off partway. Whereupon I sigh and move onto the next one.

One of the trees has soft, silken needles, like the pelt of an animal, and climbing under it to get at the garlic mustard feels like an embrace, its soft branches parting gently to allow me in. The other is spiky and harsh, its needles a pale, frosted green, as if it carries with it a touch of ice, even in midsummer. If I forget my gardening pad, then I dare not kneel or sit under that one—the fallen needles, branches and cones are sharp and leave splinters, often as not. But once I find the hidden entrance, where the branches are thinner, and sneak under its canopy, it feels like a hidden fortress. A quiet sanctuary. The dappled light shines through onto the layers of discarded needles, the breeze tickles my bare arms and I can hear the sound of the nearby creek plashing over rocks and branches, such that I simply have to pause and honour the moment, if only briefly. With much of the garlic mustard routed, I can now smell the bracing cleanliness of the pine itself.

Later, I sit out on our crumbling, overgrown terrace in the back, listen to the birds, and watch a languid, furry bumblebee browse through the catalogue of our bushes and tulips. The green of the moss is almost neon in its sunlit vibrancy, and the early blossoms of blue-purple periwinkle, yellow daffodils, red tulips and white trilliums entice me into the little grove beside our house, where I feel the rough, varied textures of the tree bark under my fingertips as I reach out to trunks and branches for balance.

So it is that the world blossoms, and along with it, my senses.

The tumbledown terrace.

The little grove, with daffodils and trilliums.


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