Climbing Into Spring
Spring arrived on the calendar this year on March 20th, even though this date was not in sync with the weather. On the west coast, it is a different matter. Spring makes a protracted and beautiful entrance long before the calendar date and keeps blossoming into summer. I miss Vancouver and the Islands during these months.
Here in Ottawa, it feels like we climb into spring. A lovely day – snow recedes and the air has a hint of spring – and then, we wake up to fresh snow and a cold wind. Three steps forward, and two steps back but even if I get impatient I don’t get discouraged. In fact, yesterday, I found evidence that “spring” is close at hand.
Climbing to Spring
Years ago, when I flew back from Japan, I watched a wonderful movie with English subtitles called Climbing to Spring. I loved the movie, which focused on the life choices a young man makes after the sudden death of his father. The big questions arose on what matters most; community; friendship; love; purpose and the healing aspect of the magnificent mountains that can bring us solace. It contrasts the prestige of a successful securities trader in Tokyo vs the humble life in a remote mountain hut in the spring/summer.
One particular scene that I think about was when the young man and an older friend of his fathers are hiking up the mountain with heavy backpacks. The elder was carrying twice the weight of the younger when the latter collapsed. It essentially was a moment; a lesson about wholeheartedness and state of mind. Goro, the elder, explains to his protege that it isn’t about the weight; rather, it is how you carry it.
As you might imagine, if you are a regular reader of my blog, these are my kinds of questions, and of course, I would love this movie.
It is springtime when I dust myself off, organize my space, make plans, and believe I can climb any metaphorical mountain and a few actual mountains too. I put my boots away, store my winter coats and tires, and have to resist the urge to drive south and westward, toward spring. At this very moment, I hear the wind howling outside my window with a windchill of -15 celsius. Still, each day it is getting warmer and this wind chill appears to be a one-night anomaly. Furthermore, we are alive, and still breathing, on this day near the end of March, and the weather is hardly the most important thing.
I need to say that this poem by Billy Collins expresses my longing, and I will be delighted when this day arrives, as it surely will.
Today By Billy Collins
If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze
that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house
and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,
a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies
seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking
a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,
releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage
so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting
into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day. – Source: Poetry
My friend Mary is in Japan on a walking trip and to her delight, she is enjoying the height of the cherry blossom time. She snapped this photo, in Kyoto at Nijo castle, during the cherry blossom illumination festival. No touch-ups. This is just how it looked.
1:) Here is The Atlantic photo gallery for cherry blossoms: Japan; Munich; China; Washington DC and Virginia. Quite spectacular. View here. And thanks Mary MacKenzie for giving me your photo to use.
2:)When all the world appears to be in a tumult, and nature itself is feeling the assault of climate change, the seasons retain their essential rhythm. Yes, fall gives us a premonition of winter, but then, winter, will be forced to relent, once again, to the new beginnings of soft greens, longer light, and the sweet air of spring. – Madeleine M. Kunin Swiss-born American diplomat, author and politician.
3:) oops- I had to sneak this in – see below Daffodil’s Return. Poet and essayist (William) Bliss Carman was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, in 1861. He studied at the University of New Brunswick, University of Edinburgh and Harvard University. He settled in New Canaan, Connecticut, in 1909, where he spent most of his life and achieved international fame.
4:) Throughout my lifetime spring has always represented beauty and hope. It is no coincidence that the daffodil is an icon of cancer. After winter, the promise of spring is a promise of resilience, strength, courage, beauty, and perseverance. A reason to get up in the morning, even when surrounded by a crowd of sorrows. So, for today, I wish to celebrate the constancy of spring. No matter what has gone on, spring arrives and with it the telltale signs of life: the tiny sprout, a spot of colour, the melting snow, the lightness of my step, the choice of boots or shoes, the impossible sweet surge of joy when the sun warms my face. I don’t want to miss one moment of this. Thank you for being here, once again, and may you enjoy the unfolding of spring. Best wishes, Trudy
Daffodil’s Return by Bliss Carmen
WHAT matter if the sun be lost?
What matter though the sky be gray?
There’s joy enough about the house,
For Daffodil comes home to-day.
There’s news of swallows on the air,
There’s word of April on the way,
They’re calling flowers within the street,
And Daffodil comes home to-day.
O who would care what fate may bring,
Or what the years may take away!
There’s life enough within the hour,
For Daffodil comes home to-day.
Good morning Trudy,
Another lovely blog and so powerful!
‘Goro, the elder, explains to his protege that it isn’t about the weight; rather, it is how you carry it’.
Hi Cathy, thank you for taking the time to send a note. You just lit up my chilly and sunny spring morning even more.
I know this to be true,and still, it doesn’t make it easy.
I plan to be in your neighbourhood in July/August and maybe our paths will cross. Best wishes, Trudy
Ah, ‘the constancy of spring’, ‘the seasons retain their essential rhythm’, yes to all of that Trudy. And thanks to Billy’s exuberant welcome to spring! xoxo
I knew you wouldn’t mind my sneaking in a second poem for spring. Thanks dear Janice. As always, trudy
Love your blog mom, I hope spring arrives soon! xoxo Meghan
Ah! You have spring fever too – ❤️thank-you and love you back.
Thank you for your kindness dear Kathryn. ❤️
The Atlantic photo gallery is so lovely! Photo #7 is my favourite so far, the picnic breakfast among the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C. It’s pretty freezing here with sleet coming down right now, but I have spring fever with the new to me daffodil poem. Thank you!
Trudy, I say “The Colour of Ink” documentary yesterday. It’s brilliant and there were only about 6 people in the theatre. Tell your audience to look out for the film as it is starting to pop up across Canada (mostly alternative venues) but the showings are very limited even though it’s co-produced by the National Film Board of Canada. I really hope more people can see it. It took my breath away! https://www.nfb.ca/film/the-colour-of-ink/
Thank you dear Emma. I so hope the film comes to Ottawa. I appreciate the update on this film and I will keep my eyes peeled. Enjoy your spring fever. Happily, there is no cure.
Trudy, I have been blessed this morning by readings in your charming and thoughtful blog. I loved the poems and resonated with your feelings of being pulled toward the west in springtime. I moved to Seattle 35 years ago from New York, and not a spring goes by when I am not enthralled by how early the blossoms begin to reveal themselves. Thank you for your insights and gifts. Love, Viv
What a lovely message to receive on a day when I am housebound due to a serious storm of ice rain. The worst I have seen all winter. I hear it and see it through the windows and it is predicted to continue for the rest of the day. I love to picture the cherry blossoms tumbling to the sidewalk rather than ice pellets. So, I am clearly not living in the moment. Enjoy, dear Viv! Hugs across the miles, Trudy