Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Reading poetry and landscapes #NPM17 #phenology

We got a couple of inches of snow last night. It melted as it fell on the roads and driveways. The fields and woodlots briefly wore unseasonal ermine white, but it's fading as this is being written. I fear that the cause of our Winter-burst may belong on my shoulders. Over the past weekend, I put away both pair of my flannel-lined jeans and unplugged the heater for the now frozen bird bath. That may be all it took to annoy the "red gods." I'll avoid further seasonal adjustments for the foreseeable future. July is the only month in which Minnesota has not recorded snow fall.

black-capped chickadee and swollen oak-leaf buds in April snow
black-capped chickadee and swollen oak-leaf buds in April snow
Photo by J. Harrington

Before the air was full of snow flakes, did you notice the developing red maple and green poplar-leaf tints of bud burst that started to enliven the colors of our local woods this week. The snow will help our precipitation deficit. Will that help make the colors more robust? Maybe only red gods and poets know that answer from past travels through the landscape. Some of those travels have been prompted, at least for poets, by the eleventh suggestion for celebrating National Poetry Month: to "Attend a poetry reading at a local university, bookstore, cafe, or library."

I'm pleased to note that I've both attended and been able to read at poetry readings sponsored by our local arts group, the Wyoming Area Creative Arts Community. They also host a monthly meeting of The Poet's Corner. I've also attended other readings from time to time at The Loft Literary Center. Poets & Writers magazine has an app listing of local events (full disclosure, I can't get my version to function on my iPhone since I "upgraded" its operating system). Fortunately, the events listing is also available online. Much of the magic of poetry will be found in its sounds. If the voice in your head while reading poetry is so faint you can barely hear it, try attending some local readings and see if that helps increase the volume and clarity of your internal voice. I don't know of a similar approach for Spring weather, do you?

Some Effects of Global Warming in Lackawanna County


Jay Parini, 1948


The maples sweat now, out of season.
Buds pop eyes in wintry bushes
as the birds arrive, not having checked
the calendars or clocks. They scramble
in the frost for seeds, while underground
a sobbing starts in roots and tubers.
Ice cracks easily along the bank.
It slides in gullies where a bear, still groggy,
steps through coiled wire of the weeds.
Kids in T-shirts run to school, unaware
that summer is a long way off.
Their teachers flirt with off-the-wall assignments,
drum their fingers on the sweaty desktops.
As for me, my heart leaps high—
a deer escaping from the crosshairs,
skipping over barely frozen water
as the surface bends and splinters underfoot.

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