Almost the Spring I Feared the Most

It was really balmy here in Southeast Virginia a few weeks ago, and it made me a little bit nervous. Where I grew up, March was the trickiest month of the year. It really could “come in like a lion and go out like a lamb.” In other words, March could be damn cold–cold to the bone. And God help you if you didn’t have shoes that could keep your feet warm or a coat that couldn’t keep the wind from blowing right through! The ice settled in your back, arms, and shins, and made a left turn into your consciousness.   

As a kid in Northern New Jersey, when we had the one-off day in late winter that felt like spring, I worried about the forsythia that bloomed popcorn yellow on Route 287 on my way to and from Rutgers-Newark and the crocuses that poked up through the snow. What would happen if all the plants and trees thought it was spring and bloomed unwittingly, only to have the frozen Alberta Clipper descend upon the land once again? Yes, I worried about that. Because back then, the seasons were much longer than they are now. Back then, a month was a very long time, a season: Forever. 

That spring of falsehoods never occurred in my younger years, but this year came close. It began to warm up in February. It got warmer and warmer. Soon, none of us at work were wearing our coats. We had sweaters, and what I now know to be a Southern phenomenon, the men in the office began to wear shorts and “tennis shoes.” In New Jersey, we called them “sneakers,” but I’ve gradually come around to the Southern way. (Although I will never say “buggy” when I mean “shopping cart.”)

The trees began to swell with buds, and my now beloved tulips, yes, all 20 of them, began to make a showing. 

April Fools have come and gone, and I will make these observations: Last year, I had variegated tulips–red, white, bright yellow. This year, they are all white, with the exception of one yellow tulip. Also, the trees that are usually the palest of greens and reds, are all a dull brown. 

I felt somewhat somber until this week: The cherry blossoms and the redbud trees are in bloom, peonies abound in their vivid multi-colored splendor, and yellow pollen coats the cars and the lining of my lungs. Fellow allergy sufferers, I feel your pain. Fellow optimists, Oh, God, what glorious days lay ahead! 

An Early Southern Spring

It’s barely March, and spring has sprung in Southeast Virginia.

It’s barely March, and already the daffodils are blooming, the Bradford pear trees are ablaze with white blossoms, my tulips are pushing green leaves up through the ground, the redbud trees are buzzing, and periwinkle carpets the hill with their tiny blue blossoms. 

I can’t remember spring ever being so early. In the Northeast, where I lived until I was beating down the door of middle age, March still held one or two gut-punches of snow, wind, and rising damp. I was always cold. Until I moved to South Florida, and there, I was always hot–I’m entirely unsure which was worse. 

So, here, in Southeastern Virginia, the moderate climate never ceases to amaze me. If it snows, the scenery outside my window is magical…and then the snow is gone a few days later. The languid summer days drift by, and the fall is gentle. I will say, we do have our stretches of gray skies and drizzly days, but I don’t mind. 

Like Goldilocks, I’ve finally found my “just right.” 

The Time to Take A Stand is NOW! – Re-post

I’ve never been very good at publicizing my blog, but in looking back at this post, I realize I have to do better. I stand for democracy. I also stand for kindness, compassion, and living by the Golden Rule. This was first published on Jan. 28, 2017. I’m reposting it because I believe in its truth. If you also agree, please share with your network. 

 

To say I’m disappointed in this past election cycle would be an understatement, but I am choosing to live my life, as I always have, based on kindness. Many of my friends and neighbors supported as J.K. Rowling would call him, “You-know-who,” and I don’t fault them. That is how a democracy operates. You get to vote for the candidate you choose.

That said, I will remind you that the United States is a nation of immigrants. Our greatest successes have come from the hands and minds of people from other shores. Immigrants are welcome in my America.

Refugees are welcome, too. Many countries, including the United States, refused to take in refugees from the Nazi regime, and 6 million Jews died, and hundreds of thousands of other not-particularly-lily-white-looking people were likewise murdered. It wasn’t that long ago.

In my America, healthcare is available to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

We are all entitled to protect our earth, and especially our water supply from those who would destroy it to line their already cash-bloated pockets. So, yes, join me and #StandWithStandRock and oppose the North Dakota Pipeline which will eventually leak oil into the water supply. And insist on the end of the violence being perpetrated upon our First Nation Water Protectors who are being shot with rubber bullets (which cut through cloth and skin), hit with water cannons, and tear-gassed on a regular basis. BTW, You-know-who has a financial stake in this project. 

In my America, education is a right, not a privilege. And it’s not okay to be a racist, woman-hating, violence-advocating asshole. Nope. Not okay.

For our veterans, WE MUST TAKE CARE OF THEIR MEDICAL, EMOTIONAL, AND SOCIAL needs. We owe them more than that. Step up, America.

So what are your plans for the next four years? I suggest you join me and #RESIST. If you’re an ordinary person like me, this is not a comfortable position to be in. I made my first phone call to the US Senators who represent my district this past week to tell them the North Dakota pipeline must not continue. That was a big deal for me because all the people in my real-time life know how I hate using the phone. Just a quirk, but still, I did what I believed was necessary. So, ordinary folks, get brave. Stand up for what is right, but more than anything, practice being kind. To the cashier at Wal-Mart, to the co-worker who irks you, to the asshole who just cut you off in traffic. Now more than ever, kindness will save the day, because at the end of this and every day, this is what democracy looks like.

Bring It, 2017!

A Writer Gives Thanks

nypl-digital-nyear-3

On this, the last day of 2016, I wish all my readers the hope and strength to carry us through the new year.

Thank you for your love, friendship, support, comments, and for allowing me to dream.

 

 

 

 

Christmas Poem

I have been alone on Christmas

 

I have been alone on Christmas.

I have leaned my forehead on the kitchen window

Melting the frost outside until the water  

Ran down the glass in rivulets.

Sick with grief, I could only think if I’d been better

Christmas would not have escaped me.

Years later, I am still fragile,

But I am now stronger than the night,

And my heart burns brighter than Venus

In the early morning sky.

I know now, I am not alone. 

The heart of the Christ child will 

Always guide me and point me to

The Star of Bethlehem. 

 

Note to ALL my Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Wiccan, and LGBQ readers: I wish you safety, joy, good health, peace, prosperity, a million belly-laughs for 2017, and the joy of creativity. Most of all, I wish you love. xoxo

 

 

 

I Want to Ride a Butterfly to the Moon

My friend and mentor, B. Aline Blanchard’s poem, I Want to Ride a Butterfly to the Moon, inspired composer G. Paul Naeger to write this wonderful orchestral piece. Here, Aline recites the poem with the Orchestra on the Hill behind her. Such beauty!

 

Composer G. Paul Naeger
Performed by Orchestra on the Hill

Poetry, Narration and Photographs by B. Aline Blanchard

Animation by Chris Florio and Caleb Owen

Thanksgiving 2016 – With THANKS Being the Operative Word

America, I’d like to ask you a question. Have you ever seen Plymouth Rock?

As the United States gets ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, I’ve had to take a step back and catch my breath from the political comings and goings of the last year.

America, I’d like to ask you a question. Have you ever seen Plymouth Rock? That’s the stone upon which the Mayflower Separatists (also called Pilgrims) first set foot upon when arriving in the “New World” in 1620. Their counterparts had arrived at Jamestown in 1607, and initially it didn’t go well. I live about five miles from where the Jamestown settlers came ashore, so like or or not, I’ve become well schooled in their suffering. I’d like to point out, however, that the suffering the white Europeans brought upon the First Nation was a billion times worse. Think smallpox, etc. I wish I could, but I can’t undo the past.

Back to Plymouth Rock. About five years ago, I was with Barbara and Arthur on Cape Ann in Massachusetts. Arthur pulled the car up to the curb and asked me if I wanted to see the Rock. It had a huge monument over it, so I got out, and walked over. Peering down, I saw a suitcase-sized white stone. I could have fit it in the trunk of my car. That was it. That was Plymouth Rock.

Throughout my life, until that moment, I had envisioned the Pilgrims stepping off the Mayflower onto a large outcropping of rocks. In my mind it was an enormous rock. So, I was very surprised when  it turned out to be so tiny.

We as Americans have some not-so-tiny issues ahead of us over the next four years. But in the spirit of peace, I and my loved ones will break bread on Thanksgiving, and we will pray for truth, we will pray for strength, we will pray for justice, and we will pray for peace. And we will ask for God’s blessing upon for all of us, regardless of our beliefs, now and in the year to come.