Tuesday, May 12, 2015

May wind chill, Spring break?

On my way back from a morning trip to the post office and the county treasurer's office, I stopped and cut a few branches of lilacs for a bouquet. The flower buds have formed but not opened yet. Earlier this year I missed the forsythia blossoms and without one or the other around the house this Spring it could seem like Christmas without greenery or Easter without lilies. This morning's lilac bushes showed notably fewer blossoms than last year.

early June 2014 lilacs in bloom
early June 2014 lilacs in bloom
Photo by J. Harrington

Our phenology over the past several years makes it pretty obvious that nature works on a much more flexible timetable than that followed by most of us humans. Today's local midday wind chill of 42°F provides one instance of that variability. By the weekend we're supposed to warm to 75°F, but, this being Minnesota, we could just as easily jump into the 90's. In the next week or so, most of the local farmer's markets should start up for the season. We've seen one oriole at the feeder and a hummingbird sighting has been reported but not yet verified. We seem to have fallen into a typical Spring pattern for Minnesota but, at least so far, have avoided both the snow storms and tornadoes that have befallen South Dakota. With any luck at all, the legislature will be gone by this time next week, having done little harm, we hope, but even less good, we fear.

Of History and Hope

By Miller Williams 
We have memorized America,
how it was born and who we have been and where.   
In ceremonies and silence we say the words,   
telling the stories, singing the old songs.
We like the places they take us. Mostly we do.   
The great and all the anonymous dead are there.   
We know the sound of all the sounds we brought.   
The rich taste of it is on our tongues.
But where are we going to be, and why, and who?   
The disenfranchised dead want to know.
We mean to be the people we meant to be,   
to keep on going where we meant to go.

But how do we fashion the future? Who can say how
except in the minds of those who will call it Now?
The children. The children. And how does our garden grow?   
With waving hands—oh, rarely in a row—
and flowering faces. And brambles, that we can no longer allow.

Who were many people coming together
cannot become one people falling apart.
Who dreamed for every child an even chance
cannot let luck alone turn doorknobs or not.
Whose law was never so much of the hand as the head   
cannot let chaos make its way to the heart.
Who have seen learning struggle from teacher to child   
cannot let ignorance spread itself like rot.
We know what we have done and what we have said,   
and how we have grown, degree by slow degree,   
believing ourselves toward all we have tried to become—
just and compassionate, equal, able, and free.

All this in the hands of children, eyes already set   
on a land we never can visit—it isn’t there yet—
but looking through their eyes, we can see   
what our long gift to them may come to be.   
If we can truly remember, they will not forget.


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