Haiku LXXXV

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Peas spinach radish
Seeds popping first double green
So much more in store.

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A Walk in Salem

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Though it felt like winter today — grey skies, cold air, winter chill wind — there were delightful reminders that spring really is here.  Carol and Mary and I had spent yesterday evening and last night together, trying to solve the problems of the world connected to the disconnect of violence against women.  We all run statewide domestic and sexual violence coalitions, so we have a lot in common, we are all exhausted and exhilarated by our jobs, and we have so much to talk about whenever we get together we can hardly stop long enough to get to bed and get some sleep.

This morning we got up and started talking again.  We went for a walk around Salem, Massachusetts where Mary lives, talking the whole time.  Salem is a lovely, seaside town, with a famous witch history and centuries-old colonial houses crowded on narrow streets. In spite of the cold, we saw early blooms, trees holding buds like pearls, about-to-burst magnolias and outdoor seating areas just beginning to look like they might be habitable again some day.

We were talking about tough stuff — the ridiculous feuding in different factions of the movement to end violence against women which feels like junior high drama, the almost total dysfunction of the criminal justice system in supporting victims and holding offenders accountable, the very scary budgetary issues everyone is facing, the way our jobs take over our lives so that we can barely find time to adequately feed ourselves. Literally. But as we walked and talked we saw gardens and beautiful old houses, hard wind pushing the Atlantic up over the rocks and all those tight buds on trees starting to loosen up.  We stopped and asked a woman trimming a wisteria vine about an abandoned house and got a 20 minute mini-lecture on the history of Salem, because she can trace back seven great-grandfathers to the founders of the city.

Hard work, cold wind, budding tulips and good friends.  A good day.

Haiku LXXXIII

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Ice out lake open
Final skims blown off last night
Dark wind streaks water.

Haiku LXXXII

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Central Park picnic
Flowers families tree buds
Winter walks away.

Helen’s Crocuses

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I wrote this poem many years ago, but these photos, and this poem, still tell a story worth repeating about a remarkable woman.

Helen’s Crocuses

Earlier than we dare to hope
for any native color beyond
the hard buds of maples sheening
the hills with faint rose, the cupped
crocuses shoot up yellow,
purple, white —  orange hearts
studding Helen’s front yard.

Helen was a loose farmer — what bloomed
bloomed wherever; greenhouse customers
would leave a note and payment
clothespin-clipped to a board
by the broken door; eggs were sold
from an old refrigerator propped outside,
cartons stacked next to the change box.

So when the blood blossomed
in her brain as she drove to pick up
pig scraps from the restaurant,
she just pulled to the shoulder, planted
her foot on the brake and waited.
Three seasons later, hardy and startlingly
new, here again, her crocuses.

Shehechiyanu

“Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha-Olam Shehehchiyahnu vekiyamanu vehegianu lazman ha-zeh,” I recited to myself, when I came out on to the back deck, the first morning this year it’s been warm enough to sit in the sun and drink my cappuccino.  David shoveled the snow off the deck yesterday, just so we could do this, knowing the forecast was for a sunny day, wanting to be out here without our feet in snow.

What is the Shehechiyanu blessing, and what does it mean?  Literally, it means “blessed are You, our God, Ruler of the universe, who has kept us alive, and sustained us, and enabled us to reach this moment.”

The Shehechiyanu is a Jewish blessing that thanks God for bringing us to a moment of joy and renewal in our lives.  It’s way to stop and cherish a moment, particularly in the cycle of time we experience as our lives move with the rhythm of seasons and yearly holidays and events.  The Shehechiyanu is recited on Jewish holidays, when a ritual is observed for the first time during a year, or for the first time in a person’s life, or when something happens for the first time in the year.

Besides saying the Sheheckiyanu at holidays and festivals, Eric always recited the blessing the first time he went kayaking in a new year, at the first snowfall, the first cross country ski, the first fresh peas from the garden, the first swim in Squam Lake, the first fresh corn, any moment that was a blessing to be able to experience again.  And how right he was to celebrate all those moments of return and renewal, because he got fewer than the normal share, living a relatively short life.

Two weeks ago Emilio was named in our Temple, and he was given Eric’s Hebrew name — Yedidya.  Friend of God.  The Rabbi had asked Adrienne and Matt to talk about the person Emilio was named for, and what traits they hope Emilio will carry into the world from him.  Adrienne talked about a number of Eric’s traits she hopes Emilio will have, but she also talked about how she hopes Emilio will live his life.  “When my father was very sick, he said, ‘If I have to die, I know I’ve had a good life.  I have no regrets.’  I wish that for Emilio,” Adrienne said.  “That he’ll live a life that will allow him to look back and have no regrets.”

Celebrating moments of blessing and renewal is a path to such a life.

Early April Saturday

I shouldn’t be surprised by April behavior, but every year I am, again.  I expect warm, still days, with sun and no wind.  I expect to be planting spinach and peas and turning my compost.  I expect to be drinking my morning cappuccino on the back deck, and sitting on the front porch in the evening sun.

Instead, we got about 8 inches of snow yesterday, that compacted down to a solid 3 or 4 inch crusty layer on everything, including the garden bed I’d envisioned turning over, fertilizing and planting at some point this weekend.  The sun is in and out today, but the wind is still chilly, and periodically dark clouds come by and some type of semi-frozen precipitation sheets down, like a prankster in the sky is hurling ice just for fun.

But coming back from doing errands earlier this afternoon, I could see a solid patch of Northwood Lake where the ice has moved off shore a good hundred feet or more, and the water was dark blue and sparkling in the sun.   Jeweled water, banded by receding ice, April at its best.