Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Just past six, skies beginning to brighten after several days of rain. The gray skies have been getting to me, I think. I have been feeling achey and low energy. And some days you feel very immediate to me, but today you feel distant - but perhaps it's just a projection of my mood. I myself am feeling between things, disconnected. Also this feeling of - oh, I write? How on earth do I do that? Because the prospect of setting down my thoughts today has felt, to this moment, insurmountable, tiring. I have been wanting to write one thing - and so will set it down quickly without writerly fanfare: that the other day on the wildflower nature walk in the vast preserve on the east side of the county, Emily Dickinson had been very much on my mind as I, among a very small group of others on the walk, made our way through damp woods, examining various plants along the way - from stands of innocent-looking but highly invasive garlic mustard (in time it will push out every other plant), to unfurling jack-in-the pulpits, all the way to majestic stands of hemlock trees - which colonize, they don't like to be solo. I think of E.D. quite often anyway (some days more than others). I imagined her going through woods by herself, or with schoolgirl friends, selecting specimens for her herbarium. I could imagine her in just such a landscape, surely woods & fields in Amherst, less than 100 miles east of the preserve where I now stood, not too different.

I didn't make the connection til the following day - Sunday, May 15, 2011, was the 125th anniversary of the day Emily Dickinson died. So it seems especially fitting that I discovered, even if last minute, this wildflower walk, and that I felt compelled or impelled or propelled - somehow had the drive - to go. I have read since, in a beautiful tribute on the Secret Life of E.D. FB page that noted the bittersweet anniversary, that violets in bloom adorned E.D. in her final repose as well as her casket, and that on the day of her funeral, May 19, 1886, Thomas Wentworth Higginson (seeing her for only the third time in his life) noted in his diary that "The grass of the lawn was full of buttercups and violet & wild geranium."

And that's what's extraordinary thinking back to my wildflower walk on Sunday. Because violets were in bloom there, violet-colored ones and also white; and at one point in a clearing that contained (as I recall now) mostly lawn, and a hedgerow of pines - there in the grass were tiny yellow blooming flowers. Oh - buttercups? Yes, indeed, buttercups - the wildflower expert (a charming, lovely, softspoken woman who is exceedingly nuanced about bloom times, having as her lifelong labor of love devised over 30 years of observation a natural calendar in which she thinks of a year as being divided into not four - but indeed 19 seasons) (her website here) was surprised to see them, felt that they were a tad early.

And a bit later on that walk, we noticed a single wild geranium in bloom - pink.

And so now thinking about it - once I made the connection with the anniversary of E.D.'s death - wow, talk about perennials, and the everlasting - the very flowers that were in bloom on May 15, 1886, are in bloom at this precise time, in 2011. I felt such a sense of time collapsed, eclipsed, erased, evinced, falling away into some kind of simultaneity making that connection.

It's funny, the day before the walk, I had read on the FB page that it was the anniversary of E.D.'s death. But during the walk I didn't remember that and make the connection, partly because it was such a fresh new experience being in a new place with people I had never met before, and partly because we were chatting comparative bloom times between the east side of the county, in higher elevations, and the west where I live, near sea level, which I didn't realize, since in the romantic landscape in which I live, full of crags and dips and dells, I'm well above the flood prone creek. Lilacs, as of Sunday, had not yet begun to bloom in the Berkshire-Taghcanic foothills, but I was able to report to the little group that where I live they've been in bloom for a good ten days. Indeed this morning I clipped a few fresh blooms - I'd say they're past peak here now.

And that's it for now, my dearest love, wondering where you are, perhaps things are wrapping up for you where you've been - what's next for you, I wonder. Wherever you are, and wherever you go, I hope you are very happy and that things go smoothly, unfolding gently, not jarringly four-season style, but rather in langorous and deeply rich nineteen - at least -


No comments:

Post a Comment