Mar 092010
 

Forsythia

Warmth.  Signs of spring.  I love that my birthday falls during this time, that every year the Earth comes alive again just at the moment I am turning a year older.  This is like New Year’s for me, screw that January 1st business.  And you know, if you were running low on useless trivia for the day, March was originally celebrated by the Romans as the New Year, when lots of grand festivals were held and troops marched off to war (March is named for the Roman god of war, Mars).  September was originally the seventh month, hence “Sept”, “Oct”, “Nov”, Dec”, etc.  Julius Caesar moved it back, later on.  Something about the innacuracies of the lunar calendar.  Whatever.  I’m sticking with March.

In any case, the weather made it possible to head down to the farm again on Sunday.  Inside the house I painted one of the bedroom ceilings while my sister sorted and boxed years of keepsakes, clothes, and junk.  Outside I was able to clean up a few flower beds and plant somewhere around 15 or so azaleas, butterfly bushes, shade perennials, and an herb or two.  The LOML continued with the old fence removal, a herculaean task that hopefully will be finished up this summer.  As usual, there were beautiful flowers in bloom everywhere.  The camellia japonicas are at their peak, joined by early season snowdrops, forsythia, daffodils, and narcissus (yes I know they’re taxonomically the same thing).  Pictures after the cut.

In other news, the novel is treking along.  1000 more words yesterday, hopefully a pace I can keep up all week.  Right now our heroine is deep in the bowels of Hell, having a little fireside chat with the big man himself.  Trouble is brewing.  “No fear,” Satan whispers.  No fear.

And speaking of Satan, yesterday my shiny, new, signed copy of Joe Hill’s latest, Horns, arrived in the mail.  I’d ordered it from The Signed Page, so it came inscribed with a cool little drawing.  Happy, happy, squee!  For those of you who don’t know, Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son, author of a couple of books now along with an outstanding short story collection.  A fine, fine spec fiction writer in his own right.  In some ways, I actually prefer his work to his dad’s, as he explores a wider range of themes than his father does.  Very cool.  I’ll probably devour it over the weekend.

And now, as promised, some photography.  All cultivar names, incidentally, are just guesses.  My mom bought and planted what she loved, but she wasn’t a big record keeper:

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Mar 022010
 

This flower that smells of honey and the sea,
White laurustine, seems in my hand to be
A white star made of memory long ago
Lit in the heaven of dear times dead to me.

A star out of the skies love used to know
Here held in hand, a stray left yet to show
What flowers my heart was full of in the days
That are long since gone down dead memory’s flow.

Dead memory that revives on doubtful ways,
Half hearkening what the buried season says
Out of the world of the unapparent dead
Where the lost Aprils are, and the lost Mays.

Flower, once I knew thy star-white brethren bred
Nigh where the last of all the land made head
Against the sea, a keen-faced promontory,
Flowers on salt wind and sprinkled sea-dews fed.

Their hearts were glad of the free place’s glory;
The wind that sang them all his stormy story
Had talked all winter to the sleepless spray,
And as the sea’s their hues were hard and hoary.

Like things born of the sea and the bright day,
They laughed out at the years that could not slay,
Live sons and joyous of unquiet hours,
And stronger than all storms that range for prey.

And in the close indomitable flowers
A keen-edged odour of the sun and showers
Was as the smell of the fresh honeycomb
Made sweet for mouths of none but paramours.

Out of the hard green wall of leaves that clomb
They showed like windfalls of the snow-soft foam,
Or feathers from the weary south-wind’s wing,
Fair as the spray that it came shoreward from.

And thou, as white, what word hast thou to bring?
If my heart hearken, whereof wilt thou sing?
For some sign surely thou too hast to bear,
Some word far south was taught thee of the spring.

White like a white rose, not like these that were
Taught of the wind’s mouth and the winter air,
Poor tender thing of soft Italian bloom,
Where once thou grewest, what else for me grew there?

Born in what spring and on what city’s tomb,
By whose hand wast thou reached, and plucked for whom?
There hangs about thee, could the soul’s sense tell,
An odour as of love and of love’s doom.

Of days more sweet than thou wast sweet to smell,
Of flower-soft thoughts that came to flower and fell,
Of loves that lived a lily’s life and died,
Of dreams now dwelling where dead roses dwell.

O white birth of the golden mountain-side
That for the sun’s love makes its bosom wide
At sunrise, and with all its woods and flowers
Takes in the morning to its heart of pride!

Thou hast a word of that one land of ours,
And of the fair town called of the Fair Towers,
A word for me of my San Gimignan,
A word of April’s greenest-girdled hours.

Of the old breached walls whereon the wallflowers ran
Called of Saint Fina, breachless now of man,
Though time with soft feet break them stone by stone,
Who breaks down hour by hour his own reign’s span.

Of the old cliff overcome and overgrown
That all that flowerage clothed as flesh clothes bone,
That garment of acacias made for May,
Whereof here lies one witness overblown.

The fair brave trees with all their flowers at play,
How king-like they stood up into the day!
How sweet the day was with them, and the night!
Such words of message have dead flowers to say.

This that the winter and the wind made bright,
And this that lived upon Italian light,
Before I throw them and these words away,
Who knows but I what memories too take flight?

-Algernon Charles Swinburne

Mar 022010
 

Cloudy, cold and windy this morning, the remnants of the storms that passed through yesterday.  The local weatherman reported that the science backs up my suspicions – it has been colder and wetter than normal here this year.  Colder, and wetter, it seems than it has been in many years.  It’s made pulling myself from the grip of winter that much harder.  Still, I am here, dreaming of the warm sun on my skin.  Peter Pan says to think happy thoughts and you can fly.

Working on the novel today.  This blog feels like that first book sometimes.  I have no audience, really, save myself at this point.  Like the entries I make here, this first book is written for me, whether I sell it or not, whether anyone ever reads it.  It is my cry out into the aether, my scratched paintings on the wall of a cave, my thin, ever-so-human voice calling out into the darkness.  Will anyone hear?  Who knows.  What’s important is the sound.  When I am dead, all that will be left are the memories of me in the hearts of my children and these words.  The memories will pass away, as all intangible things do. But my words – my words will remain.

After the cut, the requisite a-ha video of the day.

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