Monday, October 21, 2013

October Thoughts

"A lifetime isn't long enough for the beauty of this world
and the responsibilities of your life."
Mary Oliver

Once again Mary says it perfectly. Recently I am feeling blown away by the wonderful things around me: sharing time with old friends, the glory of autumn, the warm weather, the gathering of families at a church event, the gathering of poets at a reading, and, of course, having the opportunity to see the Red Sox win the American League Pennant from Section 30 of Fenway Park. In between all this, there are the things one must do that sometimes include saying goodbye to those things that are most precious.
Last week I had the opportunity to have lunch with one of my oldest friends (not in age; she's actually a bit younger than I, but in the length of time we've known each other). We met in college. We've been together at some of life and history's most important moments. I was there when she married her husband who is also a friend, when her children were born, and when, from a small black and white television in their first home, we watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon.

We always look forward to being together. We share memories and laughs, and not a few tears. Sometimes they go together. At exactly the same moment that I am filled with the exquisite beauty of the maple's gold, I know it means winter is coming. Last week my friend told me that her husband's cancer has returned. Complicated by other medical issues, surgery is not an option. An appointment next week will determine treatment.
I wonder how to hold the beauty of our friendship, the richness of our history together with the weight of her sadness. Life isn't long enough to understand this. Yet, somehow, I suspect they are coupled. To be able to be there for my friend now as she cries, admits that she fears being alone--this is a thing of beauty undergirded by the many happy memories we share.
Much of the poetry I have written has been about spring, rebirth, and especially the persistence of the crocus cutting through the last of winter to bloom. It is a message I will return to, but  at this moment in my life--maybe because I just attended my 50th high school reunion--I am appreciating the beauty of that single gold leaf that started as a tiny bump at the end of the branch, that grew to a full green palm, that day after day gathered a piece of sun to do the tree's work, that danced in the breeze, that weathered the hurricane, and that now as it relinquishes its hold on the branch where it began, descends in a magnificent golden pirouette.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Just Another Walk in the Park

One of the many great things about having a dog is that it forces you to get out and walk. One of the great things about living in Springfield is getting to walk in Forest Park, hence Riley and I spend a lot of time walking in the park. Riley loves to walk, and the minute I turn my car off Sumner Avenue, wave at the familiar face in the ticket booth, and head down the road, he's sitting up and sniffing, knowing there’s adventure is afoot.  

We walk here in all seasons. If we come on a nice weekend day in the summer, we are weaving our way through picnickers, little leaguers, bridal parties, and runners. In the winter we are apt to be almost alone. No matter the season, it is always a rewarding visit. We have several routes--the path through the rose garden, the walk around the lily ponds, and, in the winter, the track around the playing fields because it is plowed. Yesterday we took my favorite route--around the lily ponds, up to the mausoleum, by the Carriage House, Prouty's Grove, and back down to the duck ponds.  It was a grey day, but the fall colors were glorious.

Even as the structures for"Bright Nights" were being erected, nature shone through. The reds and yellows of the maples, the floating leaves in the stream, the amazing lotus seed pods—all worthy of a poem. The Bright Nights’ version of deer jumping over Magawiska Road was already up, but it reminded me
 of just a couple of months ago when I saw three real deer
crossing the same road right in the same spot.  

Going on this walk always brings back memories since I've been coming here since I was very small. I remember family picnics near the waterfall, visiting the museum that was housed in the Barney Estate before it was torn down to make way for I91, running up the steps of the mausoleum, watching my grandfather trying to get the peacocks to spread their feathers, and skating on Porter Lake. I also remember Mr. and Mrs. Prouty who used to play bridge with my grandparents.  

To be honest, yesterday I thought about taking a shorter route just around the ponds and going on my way, but Riley started heading up the hill, so I followed his lead. The colors, the sounds of the birds, the fresh fall air--all made me feel so refreshed and grateful. Over and over I am grateful to O. H. Greenleaf and Everett Barney for donating this land to the city in 1874, and for all the successive generations who have kept it up. It's good to remember in these days of gated neighborhoods, that public space and public parks are a good thing for everyone.