Sunday, April 10, 2011

Poem for Sunday and Bluebells

By Andrew Hudgins

Storms of perfume lift from honeysuckle,
lilac, clover—and drift across the threshold,
outside reclaiming inside as its home.
Warm days whirl in a bright unnumberable blur,
a cup—a grail brimmed with delirium
and humbling boredom both. I was a boy,
I thought I'd always be a boy, pell—mell,
mean, and gaily murderous one moment
as I decapitated daises with a stick,
then overcome with summer's opium,
numb—slumberous. I thought I'd always be a boy,
each day its own millennium, each
one thousand years of daylight ending in
the night watch, summer's pervigilium,
which I could never keep because by sunset
I was an old man. I was Methuselah,
the oldest man in the holy book. I drowsed.
I nodded, slept—and without my watching, the world,
whose permanence I doubted, returned again,
bluebell and blue jay, speedwell and cardinal
still there when the light swept back,
and so was I, which I had also doubted.
I understood with horror then with joy,
dubious and luminous joy: it simply spins.
It doesn't need my feet to make it turn.
It doesn't even need my eyes to watch it,
and I, though a latecomer to its surface, I'd
be leaving early. It was my duty to stay awake
and sing if I could keep my mind on singing,
not extinction, as blurred green summer, lifted
to its apex, succumbed to gravity and fell
to autumn, Ilium, and ashes. In joy
we are our own uncomprehending mourners,
and more than joy I longed for understanding
and more than understanding I longed for joy.


We spent Saturday morning watching Daniel's robotics team on the internet feed from the competition in North Carolina. They were in first place at the start of the elimination rounds, but in the quarterfinals and semifinals the teams form alliances, so mistakes by other teams can affect scores, and they had some bad luck in the quarterfinals when their allies broke a rule, then they had some bad luck in the semifinals, so they won't be going to the national competition, but they won the competition's spirit award and their captain won an award too.

In the mid-afternoon, we went to Great Falls and Riverbend Parks in Virginia to see bluebells, which are only out for a couple of weeks each spring, but there are carpets of them particularly at Riverbend. We saw ducks, geese, coots (which Adam calls blub ducks), cormorants, herons, and lots of songbirds and squirrels, plus some snakes in the nature center. We didn't hike as much at Great Falls, which was rather muddy after all the rain on Friday, but the river was high and the falls were dramatic, plus there were many colorful little wildflowers and plants with wet leaves. Younger son took this lovely photo.

Bluebells grow all over Riverbend Park on the Potomac.

They carpet the woods that grow along the river above the falls.

Many little birds were hopping in the trees near the nature center's bird feeders.

Inside were some local snakes, including this copperhead.

We saw bluebells at Great Falls, too. Here is Adam photographing them. Here is one of his photos.

The flowers were opening on the trail between the dry Patowmack Canal bed and the river overlooks.

Because of all the rain, the river was quite high through the gorge.

And chickadees were singing in the trees over the river.

Paul decided to make peanut soup for dinner, which always makes me happy -- we had it with Swedish rye bread and cheese. Then we were going to put on the next part of Mildred Pierce, but as much as I like Kate Winslet, I was not in the mood for melodrama. We ended up watching The Young Victoria, which none of the men in my family had seen; it's still a bit fluffy but has lovely performances, even if Paul Bettany is far too young and good looking to be a believable Lord Melbourne. I think my favorite character is Jim Broadbent's William IV. Now we are waiting for Daniel to return from his robotics trip, which will likely not be till midnight.

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