Tuesday, March 18, 2008

an appointment with Spring...

It’s a cold and rainy night, so cold and wet that the cats have come in, and a few minutes ago I found Leo hunkered down on the quilted runner on the dining room table, glowering at me, I’d guess because I hadn’t turned the furnace back on (it worked; the furnace is humming as I write). After driving home through the rain, I walked into the house, fed the cats, tossed a load of laundry into the washing machine and then had a long, hot shower; now I’m having a glass of red wine and listening to Barber (Adagio for Strings). There are things I should be doing...Alex and Chris are coming in on Friday and I need to wash the sheets on Mike’s bed, and I need to change the slipcovers on the living room couches...but those things will wait.

I’m reading Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I’m old enough that I could have read it when it was first published (1974), but I pretty much only read fiction then. As I get older, I find I’m quite willing to read as much non-fiction as fiction, so long as the writing is good. It’s an interesting book...I find him incredibly narcissistic, but he points out that he’s narcissistic...not that that excuses it...anyway, the book is well written, and well worth reading. And maybe in part because I’m reading about a road trip and in part because work has seemed particularly irksome lately, and in part because it’s almost spring...I’ve been feeling like a hamster in its wheel, and I find myself longing for something, anything...perhaps a road trip...my eyes are hungry for something other than my commute and my computer screen...

...to kiss the fingers of the rain,
to drink into my eyes the shine
of every slanting silver line,

to catch the freshened, fragrant breeze

from drenched and dripping apple-trees...


That’s Millay, from Renascence, and I’ve always loved that. Especially in spring, on rainy nights, I find myself thinking of those lines...and I find myself thinking of Pound, too:
the apparition of these faces in the crowd...
petals on a wet, black bough
...

and of cummings: when faces called flowers push out of the ground...

I was reading a questionnaire at work the other day, and I felt myself getting frustrated; the woman who’d completed it had written all over it, and across the letter I’d sent her as well, and what she wrote made little sense. At one point she’d simply stopped writing, mid-sentence...and she required follow up, and I dreaded following up with her. Then I came to the section of cc meds, and saw that she’s taking Aricept...a med for Alzheimer’s...and suddenly I understood.

Time seems to be rushing by...and more and more, I long for something else, but I have to admit, I’m not sure what it is. In On Man & Nature, Thoreau wrote that he had an appointment with spring, and there’s a wonderful story about Santayana, certainly referencing Thoreau...I was going to try to tell it in my own words, but I can’t improve on this:

In the early spring of 1912, students crowded into a Harvard classroom for the final lecture of renowned philosopher and poet George Santayana. Near the end of his remarks, the students hanging on his every word, Professor Santayana glanced out the window. His eyes caught sight of a forsythia blossoming in a patch of lingering snow.
At once, he quit speaking, picked up his gloves, hat, and walking stick, and strode to the door. He turned to the startled assembly and said calmly, “I shall not be able to finish that sentence. I have just discovered that I have an appointment with April.” He left his books, his associates, and the hallowed halls of scholarship and walked outside into the garden...from Clifton Fadiman, ed., The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes (1985), 487.

I think that's it...I'm pretty sure I have an appointment, if not with April, then with spring...

4 comments:

Lisa :-] said...

I certainly get the part about time rushing by... Seems like yesterday I was trying to figure out how I was going to manage Christmas.

Spring is rolling in, to be nearly lapped by summer, and then fall and winter again. I can hardly keep track anymore.

TJ said...

smiling...I will go! Road Trip!!
Yah...Spring can hussle itself up...I see you are getting some nasty weather there.
Thinking of you....TJ

Tammy said...

Tahoe is calling you and I'm only 1hr. 15min. from Sacramento airport. :)

This post was full of beautiful words for a wet night.

XXOO

Jan said...

I feel the rushing by, too. Thank you for this thoughtful post. I love your quotes. I read "Zen and. . . " way back when it was first published, but can't remember much about it. Another book to read?