Monday, April 18, 2016

School vacation week opens today, which means that I will be spending many "spare" hours carting the boy back and forth to school for track practice. School vacation does not actually mean school vacation.

Yesterday I planted peas, as frogs anxiously garrumphed in the pond and a band of crows made an extraordinary racket in the spruce trees. At odd moments I've been rereading Elizabeth Bowen's The Death of the Heart and find myself thinking about her descriptions of spring in 1930s London, which is so like and unlike spring in 2016 Harmony, Maine.
You must be north of a line to feel the seasons so keenly. On the Riviera, Portia's notions of spring had been the mimosa, and then [her mother] unpacking from storage trunks her crushed cotton frocks. Spring had brought with it no new particular pleasures--for little girls in England spring means the Easter holidays: bicycle rides in blazers, ginger nuts in the pockets, blue violets in bleached grass, paper-chases, secrets, and mixed hockey. But Portia . . . knew nothing of this. She had come straight to London . . . One Saturday, she and [her friend] Lilian were allowed to take a bus into the country: they walked about in a wood near the bus stop. Then it thundered and they wanted to go home.
 Emily Dickinson's 1859 version in (in poem 64) is a bit more familiar:
The Robins stand as thick today
As flakes of snow stood yesterday--

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