A week ago, I realized I was trying to pack for three trips happening within one week, having laid out two little suitcases and an oversized bag on my bed. As I pulled my dress shoes out of suitcase #2 because I would need them in suitcase #1, I noticed, once again, the weather of this long, slow spring. What’s blossomed has blossomed in slow motion, except for what was browned on the edges by the surprise frosts. What fell from the sky, despite our long drought, also fell often as I rushed from porch to car to load a suitcase of books, a bag of fruit, a change of clothes in rain, snow and sheet, sometimes all at once.
At the beginning of March, I trembled when I looked at my calendar. With the end of my poet laureate term ending, I basically stopped thinking critically, or maybe just stopped thinking. Add to that our daughter’s senior recital (in March) and graduation (in April), a bunch of big events in this area, and a weekend visit that entailed almost more travel than non-travel to see our son Daniel’s life in Knoxville, TN and hike in the Smoky Mountains some. Did I mention it’s poetry month and Holocaust commemoration time? My calendar was a vivid example of how what’s written neatly or scribbled in metallic pink doesn’t translate so neatly or shimmery into real life.
No surprise then that I coped my usual way: sleeping as much as possible, rocking a sinus infection that resisted treatment for stretch, working out somewhat regularly, and of course, turning to cheetos and dark chocolate when all else failed. Yet like most overcommitted times in my life, I also was moving too fast, worrying about having the right directions or if I should have packed a sweater, to notice very often the green world exploding in slow motion all directions. Simultaneously, it’s been a blast much of the time: posing with a posse of poets in front of the world’s biggest ball of twine, sharing tea with an old friend after a reading, discovering strange museums and stranger thrift stores, listening to poetry so good it could (and did) break my heart in a room where everyone was previously a stranger.
Today, finishing packing the last suitcase of this time (the one that holds our clothes for flying to St. Paul, MN tomorrow for Natalie’s graduation), I stopped. Looked outside. A squirrel was holding onto a small board with one hand while eating something with the other. I watched long enough to discern that board was part of a small birdhouse, fallen apart with the aid of said squirrel. The air brightened. Cottonwood Mel leaned one way, the leaves just starting to bud out.
For a long time, this spring has been moseying through its pre-vernal unfolding, almost on the edge of big change and yet suspended just before all the leaves that will change our views for months to come. My pre-vernal unfolding may have been more frenetic and certainly less grounded than the trees’, but I’m so grateful that somehow we arrive at the same place at the same time.