-Mary Oliver, from Swan: Poems and Prose Poems
Woke up sad this morning for no apparent reason. Strange for me, a mostly joyful being, though I’m not one who has never experienced melancholy or even the dark pit of despair. But that was long ago and involved the implosion of my 30-year marriage to the father of my children and the man I believed was the love of my life. Understandable, right? Both experiences felt like an overwhelming sense of being weighted down. Of being crushed. And now, as if those indigo rain clouds hanging over Fairbanks had spilled their cargo into my dreams, I was drowning.
I was alone in the house. My daughter had driven little r to his pre-school and taken baby g on rounds with her at the hospital. My son-in-law was raking the gravel driveway with his backhoe-loader. I tried slamming down a couple cups of java, revising a poem, finishing some uninspiring watercolors in my Alaskan journal. When tears splashed on my paintings (not a bad effect, actually), I grabbed my camera and headed outside for a walk in the boreal forest surrounding the house. Like Mary Oliver, I trust that when all else fails I’ll find solace in Mama Nature,
And dang if she didn’t deliver! Sorrow is definitely situated close to joy on my emotional terrain. One step forward and, bang, I was out of Funklandia. The low bush cranberries did that for me. We of Swedish tradition call them lingonberries and make jam and syrup and drop them on our oatmeal. My mouth watered just looking at the darling white flowers, and the memory of my grandma stirring tiny red berries into her muffin batter made me feel loved.
I snapped a picture, inhaled the crisp air and wandered deeper into the bush. There was no path cleared by human hands, and at the same time endless paths were implied by the lay of spruce and birch. As I meandered, bouquets of Alaskan bluebells popped up here and there, ringing silently in the wind.
For me, it’s impossible to be glum in the presence of bluebells. Have you ever listened to Django Reinhardt on a rainy day? Well, both Django and bluebells make me want to dance! I twirled and whirled until I was dizzy through a pack of dwarf dogwoods barking like sled dogs from the forest floor. I sat down among them, became still, listened.
Ah, to be able to speak the language of flowers (and raindrops and snowflakes and angels)! If only I’d been able to linger for an hour perhaps it would have been possible. But you can’t hang out too long in this forest before you’re drained dry by predators, and the mosquitoes were already nipping at my face, my hands, the back of my neck. I took off, fast, and was nearly home when at the edge of driveway, I came upon a solitary wild rose singing an aria in pink to a white birch. The way she leaned against him, so sweetly! She melted my heart and I’m sure his, as well.
Thank you! Thank you! I’m good now Mama Nature! I thought as I climbed the stairs to our deck. But just to make sure I was 100% de-funked, or maybe because my mama loves grand finales, a dark eyed junco was perched on the top railing, singing her heart out. Just for me?
https://www.youtube.com/embed/vlJUsAl4YCA“>Dark Eyed Junco Song