The full tree/shrub flowering season is upon us, azaleas, rhododendrons, dogwoods and in this case a large horse chestnut. Normally, I ignore the mansions but in fact I am a creature of civilization, and often do appreciate what human touches bring to a landscape. Endless miles of trees blooming, vast impenetrable forests to the horizon, also tend to leave me cold. I like human interaction with nature, not one or the other stripped of each other’s acquaintance.
Some years the heat by now has soared, and this short marvelous season is over as it begins. For the northeast, this spring has been quite cool and continues to run ten degrees or more below average, especially here along the waterfront. That prolongs the blooms indefinitely, although any given day we might wish that we could just ditch the coat. Never completely happy seems to be my permanent condition.
First beach roses of the summer. It’s obviously silly to be obsessed with the “first” this or that of any cycled season, just as is it ridiculous to keep hanging on the “last” in the fall. But it’s a human outlook on things, as we know there do exist such boundaries of beginning and ending. Something never shared by other animals. We are blessed or cursed with memories leading to projections of long-term possibilities.
Forsythia blooms, daffodils and tulips are already a distant recollection, it is hard to remember the desolate brown branches covering the hills. Heavy coats and gloves are packed away until autumn. We take all that for granted, adjust quickly, move on into the new present. But if we just pause a moment to think about all that _ how aware we can be _ it is a constant miracle that we are so conscious.
The scent of wisteria is overwhelming from up close, but rapidly dissipates. It’s almost a contradictory plant, seeming to bloom so profusely, look so fragile during much of the year, and yet manage to establish itself, perhaps for decades, climbing high into trees. I love watching for the surprising flashes of lavender in the most unlikely places.
Each set of blooms is running rapidly through its programmed progression now, as buds turn to flowers turn to seed or fruit. The dogwoods are on their way out, the lilacs have come and gone, cherries are long vanished, apples are about halfway, depending on location and microclimate. The more aggressive annuals like dandelion are all over the place. I get dizzy if I try to notice everything.
Spartina is well on its way, although these seem to be perched more on floating mats than part of the wetlands. Whatever works, I guess. In another month they will be waist-high, and filled with various visible and invisible animal inhabitants.
My petty concerns with money or aches and pains too often intrude on my appreciation of existence. Yet, in saying that in all truth, I also lie. For I am as much my petty concerns as I am appreciation. I not only must eat and sleep and perform various bodily functions and think, I also know that if I did not have to do so I should be much diminished. Being alive and aware is more than anything else a miraculous balance of impossibilities.
Civic pride still around in the plantings at the private beaches along West Shore Drive. Hardly anyone except motorists will see these blooms, and certainly will not give credit to whoever planted and tends them. Yet there they are for the public to enjoy. An immediate refutation of capitalist economic theory, if you think about it deeply.
We’re in a fog and rain period typical along the seashore this time of year. Inland gets very hot and then big storms when fronts come through, but the heat hardly reaches us as the cold water moderates the air. Sometimes a thick mist or fog is quite beautiful, making all the greens more luminous than they are in bright sunlight.
Nothing special, just a view on a misty morning. Oh, we think, yes yes it is beautiful enough but nothing really remarkable, nothing we would sing about, just another glance among the infinite visions we see each day. It is not only miraculous that we can engage in such infinite wonders with the world, but can treat them as common and to be ignored.
Memorial Day weekend, so flags are obligatory. I like flags quite a bit, they add unexpected color and movement to any landscape. I’ve never been a purist, both raw wilderness and hermetic human engineering (such as malls) bore me.
Anyway, it’s the great anticipation of summer. Beaches are now charging entry fees, children are anticipating the end of school, everyone dreams of vacations to come. In many ways this is the best time of summer, while such hopes are as fresh as nature itself.