Today’s photo is by Sally Evans, of the first spring flowers in her garden in Scotland. It has inspired today’s aspect. In winter, while enjoying the warmth indoors, planning for spring, such as what vegetable seeds to plant for the allotment, and observing early spring flowers, leads us to gently anticipate the joys to come, while still living in the now. Likewise, as in one of these poems, memories of the previous summer keep us warm, and in some cases preserved in wine, jams and honey, keep us well fed too.
Around me the intense buzzing of the bee
busy on the yellow rue blossoms,
gathering future honey for the hive;
the sun high in the blue haze of sky
sending light and shadow
in patterns on the grey stone wall;
colours and fragrances
freshly manifest among the green –
purple lavender and sage,
vibrant lobelia blue, rose pink.
The young ash waves his leaves
greeting the crazily skimming swifts,
music seeps from the house next door
and the black cat rolls in rapture on the path.
Meanwhile I sit here,
busily gathering words
and storing summer’s sweetness
to spread on winter days.
Do you remember that first glass
of Vouvray? That tingle? A little bit of bite?
My garden’s like that today, everything
opening up. It smells of growth,
as warmth releases little puffs
of energy from every stretching stem.
We’ll walk along the narrow path
so you can feel the forms of leaf
and twig on either side. And then
the lawn, how your steps compress it.
It does no harm; it springs back
after we’ve gone.
Listen to the wind pushing through
the birch trees, moaning in the wires,
notice how the sun’s heat
switches on and off – cloud shutters.
Then we’ll sit, sheltered, and talk,
my cat in your lap or mine,
and we’ll try to make sense
of our separate worlds.
What is eloquent is the passing moment and the moment that will come after it.
This time, like all the other times, the sun
dips, darkens the face of the island, turns
the green of the cypresses black, the planes
this ill-defined grey. You’re taking time out
on the quayside, wondering what makes this
autumn, the light still cutting the water
to crystal, hazing the line of the hills.
When a ferry boat chugs from the mooring,
you follow its wake across to the shore
where you see it: there’s smoke in the forest;
men burning the branches they lopped, turning
the old growth to ash, this summer’s leavings
to powder and paste that the rains will sift
into the soil. It’s then that you notice
the bells have something to say. Late and still
counting, they’re filing the season away.