Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Learning to see

When I go fishing, if I'm not catching anything I'm never sure if it's because I'm trying to catch fish where there aren't any or there are fish where I am but they don't want what I'm offering. I'm noticing a similar pattern with Minnesota's Spring weather and wildflowers. I reported yesterday on my failure to find and photograph pasqueflowers in bloom at the St. Croix Savanna Scientific and Natural Area. I'm not sure whether I was looking in the wrong place, I wasn't looking hard enough, or the bloom has come and gone in that location. The back yard pear tree that was blooming in mid-April in 2012 didn't flower before mid-to-late May last year. Minnesota Wildflowers lists the pasqueflower as blooming March - May. I didn't notice anything that looked like the photos they have of plants at various stages of development so another trip is probably worthwhile. I'm encouraged by the fact that, for years, I never could seem to find any trilliums, and then, after I found (OK, my Better Half showed me) my first one, I saw them "everywhere." I may have too many years of having trained my eyes to notice the movement or form of game, game birds, and waterfowl to become really good at spotting plants that  just hold still and look beautiful. Maybe I could get some special clip-on filters or lenses for my glasses and then see flowers the way bees are supposed to. We see what we want to see; what we're trained to see; what we expect to see. Too rarely do we simply see what's in front of us, just as it is.

Trillium grandiflorum (Large-flowered Trillium)
Photo by J. Harrington

As April winds down, we can look forward to seeing Poem in Your Pocket Day on Thursday, and then, in May, I expect to see some of the local snakes start to sun themselves on the road. I hope to see scarlet tanagers and rose-breasted grosbeaks at the feeder, and the return of hummingbirds. I'm also looking forward to getting and planting my very own pasqueflowers and some more swamp milkweed for any monarch butterflies that wander by. I see that one of the apple trees seems to have come through the Winter fairly well and am hoping the other is just a late bloomer (actually, leafer). All of the preceding, and some reading I've done recently, makes me wonder if we humans really need to try to get more to be happy, or if it's different that we're looking for, because we're, or at least some of us are, too easily bored. That makes me wonder  what I mean as a distinction between "more" and "different." Nature seems to have a pretty good handle on her version of a circular economy. We need to work some more on our own version, I think.

National Poetry Month

The Garden Buddha

By Peter Pereira 

Gift of a friend, the stone Buddha sits zazen,   
prayer beads clutched in his chubby fingers.   
Through snow, icy rain, the riot of spring flowers,   
he gazes forward to the city in the distance—always   

the same bountiful smile upon his portly face.   
Why don’t I share his one-minded happiness?   
The pear blossom, the crimson-petaled magnolia,   
filling me instead with a mixture of nostalgia   

and yearning.  He’s laughing at me, isn’t he?   
The seasons wheeling despite my photographs   
and notes, my desire to make them pause.   
Is that the lesson?  That stasis, this holding on,   

is not life?  Now I’m smiling, too—the late cherry,   
its soft pink blossoms already beginning to scatter;   
the trillium, its three-petaled white flowers   
exquisitely tinged with purple as they fall. 

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