Pink and yellow

Do you smile every time you see a flower these days?

I do. Maybe it’s because it’s early spring, after an interminable winter. It feels like forever since sun and warmth found us. There are the beginnings of growth all around me now, but the air is still cold and the season itself still feels fragile. It could snow anytime, but I’m hoping it won’t.

Maybe it’s a teaching thing– I feel like I need to smile and nod at these brave budding troubadours venturing their spring songs possibly too early. If I encourage them, they’ll gain confidence and keep going.

Maybe in addition to those reasons, I am starting to really feel the truth of the renewal that I’ve set myself on in the past month or so, and I’m so desperately happy that this is working.

Without delving too far into personal details here, things are changing for me. I’m enacting an invisible yet iron division between myself and certain groups of people in my life, for the sake of my own independence and mental health. I’m living alone now, and in the space that has been left behind, I have gained the clarity to really look at my life and examine my dissatisfaction with it. I’m lonely, and afraid of the future, and feeling all the uncertainty and searching that we apparently must hike through in our mid-20s. But I know myself (and I really like myself!) and I know that I am committed to being happy. So I’m making changes. Some small, some big.

One of those small changes is taking a walk every day. I like late-ish afternoon best for walks. These days the light isn’t dying but just – changing. I like the sensation of fresh chilled air on my cheeks. I like how long my hair is, and the epiphanies that come to me as I walk through my neighborhood. I like smiling at the people I pass.

Today I came around a corner and was greeted by an exuberant rash of pink flowers– tender petals dripping from the rain that’s been falling all day, but so brightly pink that they shocked me into a big grin. I wish I was better with flower names or that I took a picture, but instead I just walked on with a spring in my step, crossing the street diagonally, thinking to myself that yes, things are going to grow now.

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Spring Reading List

I keep a shelf in my house for the books that are calling my name. Here’s what it looks like right now:

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Current ReadsThe Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert, which gets better and better as I make my way through it. I haven’t been rooting for a woman protagonist this hard for a long time– Alma’s setbacks are making me angrily clean my kitchen! I have faith, though, that she’ll reinvent herself yet again. I also started Human Acts, by Han Kang, but I don’t think I’ll finish it. I think it’s a little too dark for me at the moment, but the writing is beautiful.

For School: There Are No Children Here, by Alex Kotlowitz, is the nonfiction book I’ve chosen to read alongside my AP students for their independent reading project. I rarely read nonfiction, so I’m interested to see how well I can get into the habit. And another class will soon be reading Lord of the Flies, so along with Elie Wiesel’s Night, I’ll need to do a rereading alongside my unit planning.

TBR for Spring: Now– the exciting ones. The books that I’m excited to read this spring and summer. Some have been on this shelf a long time and some jumped out at me at the library. You’ll notice a preponderance of women authors, and I’m hoping that many of these stories are about discovering, reinventing, or rescuing oneself.

Like Water For Chocolate – Laura Esquivel (a re-read, and one that merits its own post) 

Five Quarters of the Orange – Joanne Harris

Song of a Captive Bird – Jasmin Dapznik

Year of Wonders – Geraldine Brooks

The Buddha in the Attic – Julie Otsuka

The Painted Drum – Louise Erdrich (one of my all-time favorite authors)

Girl Waits with Gun and Lady Cop Makes Trouble – Amy Stewart (these look so fun!) 

Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng

Afterimage – Helen Humphreys (becoming a fan of hers after The Lost Garden)

The Steady Running of the Hour – Justin Go

The Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton

Possession – A.S. Byatt

The rest of the books on the shelf are more adventurous and far-reaching: perfect for summer. 🙂 Let me know in the comments if you’ve got reviews of these or if there’s a book you’re dying to read this spring!

 

 

Garden Reading

April is the cruellest month but it’s not gonna get me this time. For *SPRING!* my reading has taken a turn from dark to light. I’m now looking for stories about love and belonging and home and selfhood. I think I’ll especially focus on women authors this spring. What suggestions do you have for me? I love reading your comments! 

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The Lost Garden ~ Helen Humphreys

This little novel is truly lovely, and I think probably underrated. There are intersections of intellect and instinct, of practicality and beauty, of femininity and queerness– things that can go hand in hand but seem at first to be in conflict. The language of the whole novel, epecially in its dreamlike moments of longing, is gorgeous. The theme of female friendship and self-liberation felt so important to me.

Gwen is an expert botanist and gardener, sent to the English countryside during the London blitz to work with the Women’s Land Army to – yes, I know- grow potatoes. She discovers that the old estate on which she’s stationed holds a myriad of secrets within its gardens, and as she uncovers meaning there, she learns about herself. It is a story of misplaced and unfulfilled love, but also a story of finding your own place in the world– not to be easily satisfied, but to cultivate whatever garden is in front of you with whatever tools are at hand.

 

The Signature of All Things ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

My theme for this week has apparently been “woman botanists,” which I never thought would be a particular interest of mine. But it makes sense, because I am a woman (if I may be so bold) of intellect who holds a deep need to connect to realness and the works of nature. And these characters just happen to be really cool.

I’ve barely made a dent in this beautiful book, but I’m enjoying it so far. I love historical fiction, especially when it verges on the epic, and I’m looking forward to watching the brilliant Alma grow up and have adventures. She’s the daughter of the botanical scion Henry Whittaker, and grows up in the late 18th Century on his massive estate in Pennsylvania as a prodigious child and a curious seeker of truth. And, oh, I believe there may be some romance coming down the road.

 

Have a happy reading week! I am looking for things that I can grow and nurture, so stay tuned for some plant pictures. What are you reading, and growing? 

April Poetry

Happy National Poetry Month!

I want to write a poem a day this month. I did this last April (which seems like forever ago!) and it really was the factor that catapulted me into writing poetry. And if I’m being honest, my poetry and my writing practice in general could really use some rejuvenation. 

So, in honor of spring and Ostara and all that’s fruitful, I’m committing to this. Wish me good luck. 

window poem

green glass, light through it.
the sun splashes fickle gold
and I, a fool, laugh.