By Michael Longley
Poem Beginning with a Line of J.M. Synge
Brown lark beside the sun
In late May, marsh marigolds
And yellow flags, trout at the low
Bridge hesitating, even
The ravens' ramshackle nest--
Applaud yourself, applaud me
As I find inside the cottage
A wheatear from Africa
Banging against the windowpane
And hold in my hands her creamy-
Buff underparts and white rump
And carry her to the door
And she joins you beside the sun
Before skimming across the dunes
To mimic in a rabbit hole
Among silverweed and speedwell
My panic, my breathlessness.
We had a quiet Saturday morning after getting older son off to robotics, then after lunch we went to the National Arboretum, which -- in addition to the daffodils, crocuses, and buds beginning to appear in the outdoor gardens, and the visitor center fountain koi which have somehow become enormous over the winter -- has an exhibit of viewing stones in the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit. The weather was gorgeous, the bonsai had all been moved into the covered pavilion to protect them from the elements during the winter, and we walked around the National Capitol Columns and saw centipedes and bees in the forsythia afterward.
Rabbits, the sign explains, leap over obstacles and land on their feet, which are some of the themes of the Year of the Rabbit exhibit at the National Arboretum.
In addition to plum blossoms indoors, a plum tree is beginning to flower just outside the exhibit.
These are called Moon Pattern Stone, Plant Pattern Stone, and Hopping Rabbit.
This stone from Eel River, California is called Moon-Gazing Rabbit.
In Asian art, a rabbit paired with the full moon signifies long life and good fortune, based on a Chinese folk tale about a jade rabbit who makes the elixir of immortality from the moon.
These are called White Rabbit and Sun Pattern Stone.
This stone from Honduras is called Sleeping Rabbit.
The traditional dance of Okina in Japanese Noh Theater is performed at the new year for blessings and good fortune.
Instead of taking the most direct route when picking up older son, we went the long way around so we could drive the Intercounty Connector while it's still toll-free. My mother was in Philadelphia for the day so we had my father over for pizza, then we watched Love Actually, which I've actually only seen twice before -- it's a wildly uneven film for me despite the cast, and as much as I like the Bill Nighy and Liam Neeson storylines (the latter is vastly improved by watching the deleted scenes, too), I'm only lukewarm on the Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley, and Colin Firth storylines, which are rife with cliches, and I absolutely loathe the Alan Rickman-Emma Thompson-Heike Makatsch storyline. I really do like the soundtrack and all the London scenery, though.