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Enjoying Spring?

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            The Enjoyment of Spring

February leaves light frost on the park grass,

But the birdsong cutting the chill silence belies

This skin of sparkling crystals; harkens from 

Recently breakfasted birds animated to action 

As the era of excitement approaches, already 

Cold soil broken by budding narcissus prepared to 

Perform their demure golden pouts and beside

The warming morning rays upon me shows

The strengthening sun will soon scatter the ice

And afternoon will even induce disrobing, thus

Dallying in sun-drenched dales. 

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Yet, still, I feel

Almost ill at enjoying these delightful days when 

We know elsewhere gale forced storm surges 

Swamp grasslands with salt, wind whip trunks

Down like twigs, just as most we need them 

Growing. The mountain slopes are bare of snow:

Instead several fires on-going, and a bushel

Of other evils await. 

Even here, these trees 

Are leaving too soon; petals, peeping weakly

Into shape shall feed few bees this spring,

And we fear for their fruits come summer.

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For the grass beneath the white seems damp,

But even the soil is dry, and blades soon scorched

As we wait for rains, disappeared more than delayed,

During a drought seeming set to last till March.

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The rain came, finally, to wash off the delicate petals from these early-flowering trees, in early March. And record rainfalls in some places, like Alicante, with highest ever 24hr precipitation on March 4th… not so good for the fields at all.

I wrote this poem after a pause in the park on the way to work, the same day I saw this video of the storm surge back in Ireland where they were hit by several named storms while our farmers in Spain were desperate for rain.

The Smell of Rain

            

Like many in my situation, living as an emigrant, I’ve been wondering about when I’ll get home, and certain things make me think of Ireland… 

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Raindrops gathered on a cobweb in gorse. From a recent hike out in the hills

           The Smell of Rain

Not the petrichor: that scent at

The first few splats of heavy plashes

As a high cloud unburdens its humid load,

Stinging the nose with its distinctive smell,

Nor the nostril flaring storm at first,

Suddenly splashing the unsuspecting 

Then spattering along the streets,

As if to sweep them from the scene,

To shelter and, swiping eyes, appreciate 

The spectacle. Not either the drizzle,

Softly seeping into hair and shoulders,

Seemingly seeking to stay aloft like fog,

Hovering above the soil as if unimpressed 

With landing, but accepting settling 

On stems and leaves, leaving shoes 

Darkened should one step through the grass.

None of these, is the smell that sparks

My senses, resurrects memories.

But later, when it’s soaked in after

Several repeated storms, then

The smell of wet earth, seeps

Into sinuses, springing forth

Almost feared forgotten scenes

Of rolling streams through soggy ground,

Sodden peat and spongy moss, 

The sparkle of water wringing the island

From sunlit rainbow down to buried rock,

Reminding me of Ireland, only Ireland.

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misty rain collecting on a cobweb on gorse. It could be Ireland as easily as Euskadi.

“You just had to be there.” Attempting to describe something indescribable.

As writers, poets, we often have to describe a scene, or try to. Sometimes the scene is invented, but we also borrow real experiences for our fiction, and we strive to faithfully put down words that will at least echo the actual situation we saw.
Nowadays we can take photos of most things. We can video a bit of a concert (though I much rather just watch) or take a panoramic shot of the top of a mountain. This helps convey to others the kind of experience you’ve had.
And sometimes that’s just impossible. There are things for which you just had to be there. And among those who were there, the phrase, “remember that time…” will always come up.
I had one of those last night.
The Perseid meteor shower was supposed to make lots of shooting stars, but it was cloudy. I went outside to read my book and wait to see if the sky would clear.
I’m in a village with 5 streetlights a mile from the next 5 streetlights and 20 from the city, so it’s pretty dark and we can see the Milky Way on a clear night.
Off to the north east a row of storms lit up the sky. They must have hung all along the Pyrenees, because though the wind was coming from that direction and I could hear the windmills on the hills between me and the lightening, I could hear no thunder.
And there must have been constant thunder, for the lightening never stopped. For the whole hour or more I was there I did not count more than a second and a half between flashes.
I’d never seen such a spectacle. It was like natural fireworks, like a light show at a concert but traced across a swath of sky, like there was a battle of the Gods taking place. Each flash illuminated a different section of cloud, their formations changing all the time.
And the strange thing was that up above me the sky was perfectly clear. I could see the Milky Way; though waiting for shooting stars was hard with the distraction and the light “pollution” from the show.
Taking a photo, or trying to, would be silly. I did try to record some video, but the camera could not do justice, so I turned it off.
There are some things you don’t really want to share with anyone. Like a cup of tea at dawn in the countryside, letting the first sunrays heat your back, watching dozens of swallows warm themselves on the telephone wires and listening to the drone of bees already in the lavender.
And there are others that you just have to share with someone, just so that someone else can verify how amazing the thing was that you saw, so that everyone can’t just dismiss it as imagination or exaggeration or wishful thinking.
Last night was like that.
I shared it with my mother-in-law.
My wife was too tired to stay out very long, so I told my parents-in-law to come out from the television and see the spectacle. My mother-in-law had never seen anything like it in the seventy years she lived in that village. We stood leaning on the garden gate and marvelled at it, listening to the crickets and cicadas in the balmy night.
And then, right in front of the lightening, we saw the biggest, brightest, longest-lasting shooting star I’ve probably ever seen, at least in twenty years. We both cried aloud and were glad neither of us had missed it – though it would be bard to miss, for it was long enough that you could have turned around and still caught the end of it.
When she reluctantly went inside, I shared the night with a glass of whiskey and watched for another half an hour. The sky above me eventually began to cloud over, and the storm cloud thicken, so the flashes were more hidden, and I decided to call it a night. And then, just as I turned, and though the sky was hazy then, another shooting star passed in front of me. It wasn’t as bright because of the cloud, but I could distinctly see the smoke trail it left behind it.
I’ll never see a show like that again, I’m sure, but as I watch the swallows take off in droves this morning, I know I was privileged to have seen it at all.