On my way back from the Library of Congress one morning, it was such a beautiful day that I took my time strolling through Capitol Hill, and I came across this mysterious garden—completely fenced, with no apparent connection to any of the surrounding houses, and bearing no sign, yet obviously cared for.
Often I carry my sketchbook without taking the opportunity to use it, but this time I justified my delayed return in order to sketch a subject so suitable to the season. Happy Mothers Day, all you Blessed Mothers everywhere, past, present, and to come!
Yesterday was the birthday of Irish playwright and poet John Millington Synge (1871-1909) and today the anniversary of my mother’s passing. To honor both the poet and the gardener, I post this poem and a new painting.
May seven tears in every week,
Touch the hollow of your cheek,
That I—signed with such a dew—
For the Lion’s share may sue
Of roses ever curled
Round the may-pole of the world.
Heavy riddles lie in this,
Sorrow’s sauce for every kiss.
—John Millington Synge
It Was an April Morning
For the birthday of William Wordsworth (1770-1850); I post an excerpt from “Poems on the Naming of Places,” accompanied by a sketch made on a family bike ride. Not while pedaling though.
It was an April morning: fresh and clear
The Rivulet, delighting in its strength,
Ran with a young man’s speed; and yet the voice
Of waters which the winter had supplied
Was softened down into a vernal tone.
The spirit of enjoyment and desire,
And hopes and wishes, from all living things
Went circling, like a multitude of sounds.
The budding groves seemed eager to urge on
The steps of June; as if their various hues
Were only hindrances that stood between
Them and their object: but, meanwhile, prevailed
Such an entire contentment in the air
That every naked ash, and tardy tree
Yet leafless, showed as if the countenance
With which it looked on this delightful day
Were native to the summer…
You can read the poem in entirety here.
For a mini-bio of Wordsworth, please see My Heart Leaps Up. For another painting and favorite poem, please see Dancing with the Daffodils.
This day in celebration of pranks and tomfoolery, which dates back several hundred years in Europe (and which also appears in some non-European cultures at the turning of the year from winter to spring—a kind of universal spring fever), in France is called Poisson d’Avril. Here are a few April Fool pranks from around the world.
In our family the most successful prank was played by my husband who, glancing outside one April 1 morning, exclaimed excitedly, “A lion’s escaped from the zoo!” sending us all rushing in astonishment to the window. After all, the zoo is only a block away… He still chuckles about that one.
Arise, My Love, My Fair One
Yesterday my husband brought me a bouquet of flowers from which to choose for my next seasonal still-life: tulips, daffodils, and Siberian iris, the latter still tightly in bud. When I came into the studio today on this first morning of spring, I found that the iris had completely unfurled overnight and stood grand and purple among her pink and gold companions, ready for exclamations of admiration and the sketchbook. Happy Spring, everyone! May your blossoms unfold in the night.
My beloved spake, and said unto me,
Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come,
and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;
The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.
Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
—Song of Solomon 2:10-13
Until we meet again
A traditional blessing, along with a page from my Ireland sketchbook. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
the rains fall soft upon your fields,
and, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Sigh. Lose that hour, folks.
A poem, and a sketch, for the new month.
The sun is nervous
As a kite
That can’t quite keep
Its own string tight.
Some days are fair,
And some are raw.
The timid earth
Decides to thaw.
Shy budlets peep
From twigs on trees,
And robins join
Poke through the ground
Like noses come
To sniff around.
The mud smells happy
On our shoes.
We still wear mittens,
Which we lose.
Arts and Crafts
On Saturday I’ll be a participant in the Chevy Chase Art and Craft Fair, showing some of my small paintings and (for smaller budgets) notecards that have been made from them. At the fair will be over 30 local artists and craftspeople with their paintings and prints, jewelry, glassware, clothing, and painted furniture. I hope I will have a chance to leave my own table and look around at the others!
Like the Bird
When part of our back yard tree fell during Hurricane Sandy, while cutting it up my husband called me to look at the abandoned nest within, which I saved to sketch. It seems appropriate to post it, along with his verse, on the birthday of Victor Hugo (1802-1885).
Soyez comme l’oiseau
Posé pour un instant
Sur des rameaux trop frêles
Qui sent plier la branche
Et qui chante pourtant
Sachant qu’il a des ailes.
Be like the bird, who
Halting in his flight
On limb too slight
Feels it give way beneath him
Knowing he hath wings.