The sap rises in my newly shorn trees. Buds poke out of the stems I have been warily watching, dreading they may have died over the winter. But they didn’t. Nor did I. Another spring, another promise.
My daughter has progressed with her bicycle riding. We will buy her a bigger one this summer, so her knees don’t hit the handlebars. We’ll finish reading her Lemony Snickets book to her, then we’ll start another. Fairly soon the three of us will head off to Niobrara for a therapeutic weekend away from the city, a needed diversion from all of these same days of work, school, and the rest.
I’m trying to punch up my own activity level. Last weekend I took a huge pile of branches from an overgrown shrubbery to task, bending and twisting and finally splitting the green wood, which needed tearing away from its supple bark to make the complete break. It was a Herculean task, one that didn’t really need doing, but I did it anyway. Then I broke them further and spent the afternoon burning the twigs and branches in my outdoor fireplace while drinking a beer.
Very satisfying, but my winter-soft muscles were sore for days afterward. Next week I will plant grass.
I need to get my own bike down off its inverted perch in the garage and put it to use again. I need to get on the trail, feel my legs again. Lately, all I feel of them is the pain from sitting too long, working too long, twisting my impatient legs in knots under my desk. I told my daughter we’d ride the trail together now that she’s a good rider, which scared her a little. But she’ll be fine.
She says she wants to cut her hair short for the summer. That’s a good idea.
We’ll take her to Colorado in June, to the Rocky Mountains. She can climb, breathe the thin air with us, pan for gold in the little stream beside the cabin. We’ll build fires at night, watch the stars from the deck. We’ll eat well.
My house is in order. My trees are trimmed. My clothes fit. It’s a good spring so far, and my home is happy. We are of this Earth, and we belong here. I was made to enjoy these things, and not to wonder at joy’s quotient.
Wordsworth lamented, “The world is too much with us.” And it is. The idiocy of the world won’t stop just because I’m in a good mood. But he also knew that being at one with the real world–nature–was something to aspire to, even as the world of men continues to vie for our attention and tries its best to demonstrate to us our soul’s corruptibility, our body’s corporeality, and our great grand experiment’s utter futility.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It’s when I’m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig’s having lashed across it open.
I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:
I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.
Here’s to the futility of grand things. I too am a happy swinger of birches these days.