Tag Archives: seasons

Magnolia Tour 2012: Everyday Magic, Day 518

Every year, they explode open too fast only to be killed by some midnight frost that comes in mid March. Most years, I tell myself I will stop whatever I’m doing and walk among us, marveling at their color, shape, scent while there’s still time, but then the time evaporates, and I only find pools of fallen petals, browned at the edges.

Not this year, however. Thanks to a non-winter winter and a shockingly early spring (I mean, some redbuds are coming out already!), the magnolia trees are a blaze of pink and white, daintily unfurling all over time. So I took my camera and my feet and headed out yesterday through East Lawrence.

The tulip magnolia as well as others obviously aren’t, or at least weren’t, so suited for Kansas extremes, but I still fell in love with them when I first discovered this extraordinary blossoming tree. I could go on and on about magnolias, but my poem about them speaks most to how I feel and why I love them so much.

Magnolia Tree in Kansas

This is the tree that breaks

into blossom too early each March,

killing its flowers. This is the tree

that hums anyway in its pool of fallen

petals, pink as moonlight. Not a bouquet

on a stick. Not a lost mammal in the clearing

although it looks like both with its explosions

of rosy boats – illuminated, red-edged.

Not a human thing but closer to what we might be

than the careful cedar or snakeskin sycamore.

It cries. It opens. It submits. In the pinnacle

of its stem and the pits of its fruitless fruit,

it knows how a song can break the singer.

In the brass of its wind, it sings anyway.

Tree of all breaking. Tree of all upsidedown.

Tree that hurts in its bones and doesn’t care.

Tree of the first exhalation

landing and swaying, perfume and death,

all arms and no legs. Tree that never

learns to hold back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Is This Life For?: Everyday Magic, Day 401

The first morning after the killing heat ends,

after you’ve gotten through what you didn’t think you could endure,

after the pear tree dies, the long field fades into the sun,

it changes. The cool air brightens the blue of the sky.

The trembling Osage Orange tree shines. The new surge

of fall shakes shadow and sunlight together on the concrete drive.

There is no place to yearn for, no necessary escape or long nap

in a dark room. There’s only the early monarch, wavering

on the yellowed sunflower stalk, the old crickets in the woods,

the ready wind across your face, saying, welcome back.

This is what you aim your heart toward, this return of ground

and sky, the homecoming of the broken and breaking, the arrival

of another season in which whatever you live for turns

and faces you with open arms.

Night Fields of Snow: Everyday Magic, Day 192

Last night, driving in the country to a friend’s house, I was dazzled by the wide fields of snow all directions, the open palm of the prairie brighter than usual in the dark. Although the snow is melting today and will surely be gone by Saturday when the temperature should approach the 50s, my friend died this week, our state government is about to wreck havoc with my husband’s take-home pay, the arts funding that helps support me and many friends is in dire straits, and close pals are suffering great losses lately, there’s something to be said for the night air, the wide fields, and the beauty of snow.

I especially love that sense of being surrounded by the changing dazzle of what comes when we’re not always looking, like now as I write this, the chickadee stretching her wings on the railing, and then she’s gone. Snow, people, politics and the like come and go, but it’s what we notice and how we treat each other that endure, that make the biggest difference.

The Return of the Birds: Everyday Magic, Day 137

Lately, I’ve noticed the cats high-speeding it to the window to stare out with great joy and hunger, and just beyond them, the bare branches holding a few returning chickadees and other manner of small fluffy bundles. The bird seed is starting to go down faster each day, and I know that soon, when the temperatures really drop, the deer will return to lick the ground around the feeder, the squirrels will do amazing acrobatic feats to get their share, and the bossy bluejays will scare away the smaller birds. I also know the vibrant red and blue will return — the cardinals and bluebirds, both of which have come to mean more and more to me over time. Each flash of color ignites little pools of joy in me, and for that, I’m grateful.

Winterizing Myself: Everyday Magic, Day 136

I found the ultimate zebra-print pajamas at Goodwill, completing my safari winterization outfit, and moreover, allowing me to mix stripes with spots. Given how the first cold nights are moseying on in, interspersed with occasional bouts of 50s temperatured afternoons, it makes sense to mix mammals. Last night, on my way to a wonderful poetry and essay reading with Kevin Rabas (poetry, and really fabulous stuff — check out his award-winning book Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano) and Cheryl Unruh (essays — new book, Flyover People: Life on the Ground in a Rectangular State), I felt that first blast and tweak of deep cold. It was the kind of cold that Cheryl spoke to so well in one of her essays, explaining how it finds every part of us, sneaking up pant legs, and between coat and hat on the back of our necks. Having come through the most slow-motion fall I’ve ever experienced (some of the trees downtown STILL have green leaves, not feathered with Christmas lights), it’s a relief to land in these first throes of winter, knowing what will come next but not how or when it will come. Meanwhile, I have my zebra and leopard flannel and fleece, and all is well in this house.

First Cold Rain of the Season: Everyday Magic, Day 117

I sit in the old block chair salvaged from a curb one sunny day, the cat asleep behind my head, the rain steady and expansive, and the occasional loud rushes of water from where we should have gutters wrapping sound and calm around me. Soup cooks in the crockpot. The dog sleeps on the floor. The windows are filled with darkness and the reflections of our lamps, and I’m trying to summon up the energy to saute some onions and make some cornbread.

This outrageously long fall is clearly ending. From 487 miles north, in St. Paul, MN., my daughter sends me an email titled, “So this is interesting” with nothing in it but a link to the weather report she’s facing: 100% snow for her weekend. Back in the wet skies of Kansas, I can’t yet imagine snow, but I know the trees are being washed free of their leaves, the ground is softening, and winter is coming.

The Autumn & Woman That Won’t Let Go (So Far): Everyday Magic, Day 114

It’s well into November, and many of the trees around here still are holding tight to their leaves although those leaves are often dark brown paper bags of their former selves. Similarly, I’m having a hard time letting go of various things in my life, which lead to that kind of leaf-gripping worry that disrupts my day, aims me toward watching youtube videos when I should be working, and keeps me up at night.

Walking is the only thing that makes sense at times like this, and lucky for me, I got a long walk along the river and through part of the river trail with Danny mid-day and then through the tree-lined fields near Haskell Indian Nations University Kris near sunset. All around, I saw that the wild trees — the native ones — had a much easier time disrobing, standing bare-ish in the too-warm-for-this-time-of-year day while the domestic trees, the one brought here from there, still had a death grip on their lives, mostly rust, dark yellow, or the kind of green about to die.

I think there’s something to that: what’s wild and rooted here can go with the flow much more. What’s trying to make a life here while having evolved in other weather, other climate, has a harder time trusting the change in the season. Meanwhile, the birds flow overhead, heading south. The trees continue to rain down. The wind lifts and falls. What are you afraid of, and what good does it do to hold onto whatever is changing? the world sang to me. Let go. Besides, winter is coming, and it’s okay.

What Falls In The Fall: Attack of the Osage Oranges: Everyday Magic, Day 100

Sitting on the porch this evening with the heavy and fast wind coming and going, the branches swinging down and back out, and the leaves falling down in tumbles, I kept hearing them: giant thumps around me. No surprise, the Osage Orange trees hugging the woods here are full of Hedge Apples (who says apples and oranges don’t come from the same tree?). They’re big, green, brain-textured and human head-sized. Although I hate scary movies, I love the sound of green brains falling swiftly from the trees.

Seasonal Time Travel: Everyday Magic, Day 27

Every August in Vermont, I have a moment when I realized I’ve time-traveled ahead of myself by about eight weeks. I arrive here simply by looking down. There I will find a red leaf or two while back in Kansas, summer is in its wear-you-out, tie-you-up and lock-you-up mode (which means the temperatures don’t fall below 80 much at night and the days are mundane replicas of themselves at 99 degrees).

I know that sometime in early October, I will look down in Kansas and find a red leaf or two, but who will I be and what will my life be about then? Certainly not whoever I am and whatever it is now, early August, in a place where people complain that it’s in the 80s and then a cool front, like the one pushing through as I type this, tumbles the air into the 40s.

This particular fall, I’m particularly wondering what the future I glimpse now will be when I arrive there later. With my daughter leaving for college, and my oldest son returning for his senior year, it’ll just be three of us and many animals in the house. I cannot imagine the loss. I cannot imagine the spaciousness. I can, however, picture how much longer a full refrigerator will hold court with us. In the meantime, I thank the little fellow journey companions I’ve met today, a happy horse and a big stuffed bear. Maybe they’ll help accompany me in some shadow way from here to there and back again.

Revisiting Dawn: Rita Dove and August Write For Your Life

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One thing abundantly clear in poetry is how much life continually gives us second chances to appreciate all that’s happening around us. If we don’t realize the whole sky is ours for the first few decades, or even first 60 years of our life, eventually, the speed of life — with its wild turns that change everything on a dime — will pause us somewhere, somehow so we can see how the riches around us shine 24/7.

August especially is a second-chance month with another chance to really experience summer, to notice what heat and wind can do to a person, and to long for the return of temperatures in daylight below 90. It’s a time of both abundance (especially this jungle year of rain and sun) and exhaustion, vacations and returning back to daily life, too much heat and then the surprise of sudden storms. It’s an especially good time to wake early and see what the dawn has to say to us when revisted, such as what Rita Dove writes about in “Dawn Revisited.”

Rita Dove 2010 Rita Dove, poet laureate of the United States from 1993-95 is the author of many volumes of poetry, short stories, essays, and a novel and play, including Thomas and Beulah (1986), Grace Notes (1989), Mother Love (1995), On the Bus with Rosa Parks (1999), American Smooth (2004), Fifth Sunday (1985), and The Poet’s World (1995). She’s Commonweath Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottsville, and has won many honors.

In “Dawn Revisited,” Dove invites us to revisit the ordinary moments in our lives that hold extraordinary possibilities, and to see what we usually see — a blue jay outside, the sunlight, even the people we cohabitate with regularly — as new and holding vast and fresh understandings for us all the time. Listen and imagine:

Dawn Revisited

Imagine you wake up

with a second chance: The blue jay

hawks his pretty wares

and the oak still stands, spreading

glorious shade. If you don’t look back,

the future never happens.

How good to rise in sunlight,

in the prodigal smell of biscuits—

eggs and sausage on the grill. The whole sky is yours

to write on, blown open

to a blank page. Come on,

shake a leg! You’ll never know

who’s down there, frying those eggs,

if you don’t get up and see.

–Rita Dove

from On the Bus with Rosa Parks

In this month’s Write From Your Life, write about what you see, smell, hear, taste and can even touch right now as if you’re seeing it for the first time which, if you look closely enough, you’ll realize is completely true. Write about Dawn Revisited, Mid-Morning Revisited, Noon Revisited, Afternoon Revisited, even Night Revisited, and let the blank page or screen before you help you shake a leg and discover what this moment has to say to you.