What dazzles you?

Small glimmers of light, days of sun in the midst of ongoing wintry weather.

Early morning. I’m sleepy after waking early to the cat’s cries, cat feet treading up my body, cat nose sniffing my face. I get up, make the coffee, and lounge on the couch. At the bird feeder out front, cardinals, wrens, finches dart in and out and sometimes perch, waiting their turn.

Afternoon. Lunch with friends on a bright day. We want to sit outside but there are no tables available so we sit on a glassed in porch, looking out at the brightness, the sun, the wind. In a few months there will be flowers. Now the people are flowers, families, lovers, friends turning their faces to the sun. We talk, I dip my cheese laden bread into tomato soup, drink iced lemon ginger tea. We walk back to our cars, wind whipping my hair across my face, pause by our cars to continue the conversation, wind, sun, friends.

Later another friend and I head out for a walk but are stopped by the wind, stronger IMG_0227now, requiring effort to walk into it. Still bright. Still sun. We detour to a garden shop. Look at row after row of plants, tender, small, green, earth smelling. We think about buying pansies but decide to wait. My friend buys a basil plant, thinking summer, thinking tomatoes, thinking pesto. On to another garden store, the pull toward summer strong in us now. We buy dahlia tubers, imagining strong stems, big blossoms, bouquets on porch tables. Last year the rabbits ate my dahlias when they first came up but I’ll try again and if I end up feeding the rabbits, so be it.

What dazzles me? I want to say life dazzles me. I can feel those words forming in my fingertips, ready to appear on screen, but that’s more a wish than a truth. Life does dazzle me, when I let it in—the moments, snippets, breaths, in and out, in and out.

Spring is slow in coming

Spring is slow in coming this year. I sit in the living room early in the morning, early April. Out the window I see blue sky, bright sun. It looks warm but the furnace was on when I got up, there’s frost on the grass, and the rhododendron leaves were curled as they are after chilly nights. The first days of April have been marked by repeated snow, cold winds. This is often the way.

Easter ushered in this wintry pattern. Easter Sunday, I met a friend for a walk under gray skies. Walking and talking with a long time friend seemed like the perfect way to acknowledge the day. I’m never quite sure how to celebrate Easter but always feel the pull to do so. I’m not religious, don’t go to church, but there’s something deeply rooted in me that wants to pause, praise, celebrate. A human need to mark the seasonal shift, celebrate the return of sun and warmth, mark the season of growth and rejuvenation.

And there’s also a pull to tradition. I grew up with new Easter clothes, church, Easter dinner. The first year I lived in my house, the house I bought a few months after my mom died, I invited friends for Easter dinner. Not only was it Easter but also my mother’s birthday, April 3rd. I served the meal on my new dining table, placed near the picture window looking out on the back garden.

I set the table with my grandmother’s china that I’d brought back from my mother’s Plateshouse, fine china, white porcelain with tiny springs of pink roses. I bought a pink tablecloth to use with the china, used the sterling I’d also brought from mom’s house. I don’t remember what we ate, I just remember the table set with china and silver, set with nostalgia, set with continuity and memory.

But there was also some way in which that dinner felt like playing dress up. That Easter dinner, with the formal place settings, morphed in subsequent years to a more casual Easter brunch, often on my back porch, glassed in for the spring season, heated with a space heater and guests warned to wear sweaters. This was a potluck meal, served on my everyday stoneware that I bought in a discount store when I tired of eating off of mismatched plates left behind by roommates.

The brunch tradition lasted for a number of years and then ended as people’s lives moved in different directions. Since then I’ve found different ways to mark the new season. Many years I go to a friend’s Passover seder—I appreciate the ceremonial meal, the connection with friends, the deep joy I know my friend feels as he brings friends and family together. A few years I’ve joined another friend for Easter services at a monastery in Vermont. And often all I need is an hour or two raking in the garden, a walk with a friend, a trip to Andrew’s Greenhouse to buy flats of their field grown pansies, which I plant in pots and place by the front door.

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