Monday, May 12, 2014

Thinking of Robert Frost, A Spring Dress and No More Snow...

I have been thinking of Robert Frost these last few days.  My daughter, she of the English Literature Program, bought a book of his poetry the other day and read a few to me on the way home from the bookstore.

We don't think enough about poetry, do we?

I used to be obsessed with it in high school and university, and then life took over and poetry was replaced by work, housecleaning and the more prosaic novel reading.

But a fine poem can tell as much, if not more, than a whole novel.  Like the tight ball of the peony - so constricted, so small - a good poem opens itself up to reveal a multitude of feathery soft layers of meaning, there for the taking.

So yesterday, Mother's Day, I was out in the yard, doing my best to complete the spring time yard work which is typically completed well in advance of May 11th.

But we have a large yard and we had much snow, the last bit of which only melted over night last night.  There is still snow in our woods, but there is no snow in the garden and for that, I am grateful.

Mother's Day saw me don my gardening getup: Coldplay T, fuchsia chinos, a ball cap and gardening gloves.  Real gardeners do not dress like those in magazines, I think; they dress like they could at any moment be begging on some faraway street.

While working away, the weather changed suddenly from cool to hot, as it is wont to do around here: 4 celcius to 22 mid-morning.  The whole air vibrated with the sense of spring, like some switch had turned on and some invisible voice had cried "You There: Be Spring!"  So me, the hawk in the sky, and Charlie the Chipmunk, did just that and I am not so cool to pretend that I didn't do the odd bit of dancing and singing, if only to myself.

While out there, I tried to recall a Frost poem I had read some 30 years ago about the changing of weather, though I am not so clever to have many poems memorized (but this seems like an excellent past time to undertake if one wants to avoid early-onset dementia or Alzheimer's, doesn't it?), so I looked it up this afternoon.

It is a stanza from Frost's Two Tramps in Mud Time:

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.

I thought of this because the clouds came out and suddenly, my spring-summer was gone, replaced by early spring.    Charlie and I agreed that such behaviour on the part of the sun and the clouds was absolutely intolerable and immediately signed a petition on Facebook, which I am also wont to do these days...

The garden is a dreary place in early Spring...

Though compared to the three feet of snow that covered all of this three weeks ago, the scene above looks positively miraculous...

Life wants to begin again...

The very beginning of a peony...

And rhubarb, that was only as large at the peony shoots last weekend...

The early buds of a lilac

I noted with interest that my Holly Plant was doing very well.  I couldn't even reach it to cut some Christmas last year, such was the extent of the snow by mid-December...

At my dad's funeral we had three pots of Balsam Fir, two of which have been planted in my backyard in his memory, and which seem to have survived the snow-that-never-ended just fine...

What I am always fascinated by in my garden is how such alien looking shoots can turn into such amazingly beautiful things in only weeks:

This will be a magnolia blossom soon enough

Everywhere in nature, the ugling ducking turns into the swan.  This gives me hope for how things might turn out at the far side of this exciting journey here on earth...


Later in the day, I was taken for ice cream and then we had the most delicious takeout burgers from Relish.  Both were my choices.

I was rewarded in all of my mothering pursuits by having all of my children with me for dinner, including the beloved Girlfriend (who gifted me with a necklace), who the entire family serenaded with Bless Your Beautiful Hide from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers for reasons that are inexplicable to pretty much anyone but us, but I will tell you this: Spring brings out the desire to sing...

I was also the recipient of a new dress, which I may have seen in a window, tried on and brought home.

This is indeed a bit of a coquettish pose, but it was spring-summer for a few minutes today and I did want you to see that it was sleeveless....

A foot shot so you can see that I wore bright pink suede ballet flats, which seemed just the thing for a spring-feverish kind of day.

So I'll end this with a bit more Robert Frost (can there ever be too much Robert Frost?).

A Prayer in Spring

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day; 
And give us not to think so far away 
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here 
All simply in the springing of the year. 

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night; 
And make us happy in the happy bees, 
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees. 

And make us happy in the darting bird 
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill, 
And off a blossom in mid air stands still. 

For this is love and nothing else is love, 
The which it is reserved for God above 
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill

A Christmas Rose, in May....Don't you think that would make a nice poem? Oh wait - it already is...

I add "Read More Poetry" to my 2014 list of things that will make me happy, and I think of how lucky I am indeed, to be able to add something so sweet and so obviously frivolous to my to-do list. Poetry and flowers remind us how fortune indeed we are...  And there are many like myself who consider neither of these frivolous but the stuff which makes life worth living....

Have a lovely Monday and Stay Safe out there!

xoxo Wendy


  1. Cute dress, Wendy! Looks great with the cardi & the ballet flats!

    Our lilac is in full bloom right now...can't get enough of the scent!

    1. We are weeks to lilac blooming time but even the buds make me giddy!

  2. Hello Wendy:

    Robert Frost is a poet who we greatly admire; he deserves to be far better known in the United Kingdom and should, in our opinion, be more widely 'taught' in schools [that is outside of the United States]. As it is, 'Stopping by Woods' is probably the one poem for which he is generally known.

    And writing of snow, you must be so pleased at long last to see the last of it.

    1. Jane and Lance - you are so right - we need more Robert Frost! And yes, I am definitely thrilled to see the snow gone!

  3. Isn't it a miracle to see the earth after the long winter you have endured? It was Poetry Month in US in April; we had an event at our library at which you could bring a poem you love and read or recite it. And my daughter works for a poet! I am obsessed with Elizabeth Bishop still; Wendell Berry is my hero.

    Did you wear that cute dress out for ice cream? I would frighten people if I went out in my gardening garb; I've been mistaken for the "help" before.

  4. Okay - a confession - I have never read Wendell Barry, but have just added him to my list!

    I did wear the cute dress out for ice cream - there is no way Barry would have taken me anywhere in what I was wearing whilst gardening!

  5. Hi Wendy, what a lovely Mother's Day you had, and good choice with the new dress.

    My Mother's Day was low key - lots of house sale stress - but we did go out for lunch.

    I must confess that I don't really enjoy reading poetry - philistine! - but the two you chose are very fitting for the season.

    1. Patricia - hoping all of the house stuff goes well!!!

      As for poetry - maybe you just haven't found your poet. I used to think I didn't like rap till I discovered Eminem and Jay-Z!

  6. Pretty dress. You look lovely. And your garden is looking very promising. I dip in and out of poetry. In my english undergrad I was more of a prose girl but as I mellow and settle, I have a new appreciation for the craft. Enjoy the warm weather!

  7. At one time I read a LOT of Rilke and even wrote my own poetry which was probably terrible. I've been thinking of doing some memory exercises with poetry to attempt to preserve some of my brain cells in my old age.
    Love that pretty dress, so spring like and thank heavens your snow is finally GONE!!

    1. Dani - I deserve no snow now till December 20th!

      I haven't read RIlke in a long time!

    2. Love Rilke, recently congratulated a lady I don't know very well on the birth of a granddaughter and was told that the new baby's name was "Rainer, after the Scottish poetess." Unable to stop myself, I said, "It's pronounced Rye-ner and he was German." Then I decided it wasn't nice to carp at someone else's happiness and added "but it's probably a unisex name?" "No," she said, "her middle name was Maria." Oh, life would be so much simpler if there was a more explicit German version of Mario. Or would it?

      Anyway, happy Spring! You must feel you've earned it.

  8. I very much look forward to watching your gardens come into bloom; please be so kind as to give us city dwellers a periodic peak. After the winter we have just endured this Spring and Summer will be especially appreciated. Frost is the perfect guide too!
    Dress is quite lovely!

    1. Thanks GSL! And worry not - I will bore you all silly with the garden shenanigans!

  9. Love these photos! I'm glad to see spring has finally come to your part of the country! The muscari is finally blooming in my front yard, one month later than last year's. Your dress is perfect for spring!! Hope your week is off to a great start.

    1. My muscari in the pot has finished, but I continue to water it as I can apparently plant them outside when the risk of frost is done!

  10. Those are lovely colors you are wearing. We had a wonderful weather until about a week ago, it now rather cool and grey. But here, there is an old saying relating to the Ice Saints, which happens May 11, 12 and 13 and the last one being Saint Sophie being May, 25th... so hopefully after that date Spring will come back. I wish you the same Wendy!
    I totally agree with you that we don't have enough poetry in our world. I bought two poetry books for my son recently and one for me which is a collection of poems on birds... Wishing you a lovely Monday.

    1. Am crossing fingers. I think the full moon is weds, so may it get better soon!

  11. I love the dress on you! Pink & Orange in combo never fail to make me smile. I've been thinking a lot about poetry lately, since reading the hilarious The Humans by Matt Haig. The protagonist is an ET with a penchant for Emily Dickinson!

    1. Rebecca - I think pink and orange is always divine! I'm going to look for that book!

  12. Yeah, there is such joy to gardening. Unfortunately, the pollen is so bad here for the past two weeks the allergies are raring up. Everything is beautiful except the gardenias did not survive the winter...I'm quite upset since mine were spectacular. Love you in your dress...cutie!

    1. we won't see pollen for awhile, but the bugs will be here. Sorry about your gardenias. I lost two small Norway spruce and not sure about some of the lavender...

  13. I love the dress. After a lifetime of wearing blues and greens, pink and orange looks so fresh to me now. Very pretty and flattering!

  14. So glad that Spring has finally awoken for you, Wendy. I don't enjoy yard work so much but did have a fantastic time flying kites outside on the lawn with the grandkids yesterday. That counts, right? Your hard work will be paying off soon when it all starts to bloom. You look great in your new dress so no worries about the gardening clothes.

    1. I haven't flown a kite in a long time - need to add that to the summer list!

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  20. Well, well, well...something tells me john smith was a creep?! Gotta love that delete button. Your gardening outfit sounds sort of like mine. Clothes I wouldn't allow anyone to see me in, become the perfect things to garden in. My plants don't care....after all, they'll be dead very soon. I envy your green thumb. I like your dress and sassy shoes. They look perfectly glorious for the warm Weather. Come on over for a cup of coffee xoxox

    1. ha! John was a spammer! there were a bunch of guys doing my neighbour's roof on Friday and I was out in my getup and I had to suck it up and not care!

  21. Love the bright dress on you, everything is pretty about it, the colours the cut and topped off with lovely shoes.Robert Frost never gets old does he? He always reminds me of my year living in Connecticut which really was a great year with all the seasons. And now I'm living in suburbia I am reminded that good fences make good neighbours

    1. Jody, did you ever watch The Gilmore Girls? we are GG fanatics here and that, along with Robert Frost is how I always pictured Connecticut life. When we were in the Berkshires last year I tromped a bit and pretended I was an old soul from the place!

  22. What a delightful surprise! I love your blog! I feel as if I have discovered a kindred spirit.


Kindness is a virtue...