Spring

I wrote this at the beginning of spring. It’s a pleasure revisiting this in the middle of fall when the leaves have said their good-byes and the birds are busy migrating to warmer skies.

Who said things have come to a standstill?

The daffodils opened a few weeks ago

‘Fluttering and dancing in the breeze’, 

They whisper tales of hope

When I went out for a walk in the woods,

I spotted a yellow and white bedecked carpet

And felt my heart leap

As the wildflowers hummed cheerful tunes from forest beds

The birds have laid eggs

In the exhaust vent from my kitchen hood

Their constant chirrups punctuate the quiet of my kitchen

As dishes sauté and simmer on my warm stove

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Bird nest in my kitchen vent -drawing by Mariann Joseph

Last evening, I spotted a little bunny

Camouflaged by sage stubble

Nibbling tender grass in my backyard,

The kit hopped around with measured caution

A tiny squirrel appeared on the fence

Watching and thinking-

‘This little fella on the ground looks like me,

He may have bigger ears, but for sure my tail’s bushier’

Squirrel_MJ
Little Squirrel – drawing by Mariann Joseph

Thinking such thoughts, it lingered for a minute

And, jumped onto the pine tree

Thinking more thoughts –

‘More things to do, more cones to nibble…’

Who said things have come to a standstill?

The grandchild in me

I was walking back home, after more than an hour of being in the woods. It was October, and the day was warm for fall standards.

For me, the woods are always dark and deep. Quiet and still, except for the birds that chirp and dart from one tree to another. Sometimes, they just choose to perch on a branch and stay comfortably there for what feels like ever.

Sugar Maple Park

As I came out of the woods and entered a paved road, I noticed a little battalion walking towards the woods. A grandpa with a bunch of grandchildren, it looked like. The boys were jumping around, two of them holding grandpa’s hands. I couldn’t take my eyes off this group. I could feel the love and warmth they exuded. I continued to do what I do when I encounter such scenes. Keep looking and fill up my heart with their happy emotions.

The grandpa looked content. One of the boys sported a mischievous grin. So mischievous that I couldn’t but pay him more attention than the others. As soon as he understood that I was paying attention, his grin turned to a near laugh though I couldn’t hear the sound of it. ‘Maybe he chuckled’, I thought.

Sixteen Mile Creek, Oakville

I told my husband, who was walking alongside, that the little one was up to something. “The grandpa probably knew it, but he was playing along”, I suggested.

That’s when I noticed the boy with the mischievous grin stick something behind the grandpa’s t-shirt. Within seconds, we passed them and I turned to see what it was. Dried thistle flowers or Burdock burrs, as they are called, not just one or two, but a handful of them neatly stuck behind grandpa’s t-shirt!

I stole a glance at the grandpa who greeted us as we passed them. His smile was beautiful and he seemed blissful in the company of the little ones. I turned to look at them disappear into the woods and caught the little boy turn and look at me. More grinning and more mischief in his eyes!

The moment and the discovery brought alive the granddaughter in me. I suddenly thought about my grandpa who left us two years ago. I am almost 43 and I had my grandpa till I was 41. He was 100 when he left for the light. I have 41 years of memories with him, or a few years less, considering I don’t remember the first few years. Does one feel enough about the love of grandparents? I surely don’t.

I am grateful for all the beautiful times I have had with my grandparents, but I wonder what it would be to have them for a few more years. Would it make me feel younger?

My maternal grandpa was the last of my grandparents to leave. When he left, I felt the grandchild in me become less important. I felt that the grandchild in me started fading away, slowly.

One of the happiest moments that I would recall is a particular situation in which my grandpa had to introduce me to a third person. A neighbor, or someone visiting. He would proudly introduce me by saying, “She is my granddaughter.” After I became a mother, and after the responsibilities of being a parent weighed me down, ‘she is my granddaughter’ made me feel lighter and younger.

Now, years after he left me, it’s moments like the one in the woods, unexpected encounters with other grandfathers that would bring back memories of time spent with my own.

Burrs – image from ardentfootsteps.com

Empty Nests

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“Look at that big tree by the side of the road. See, it has no leaves, no flowers and no buds. But it has bird nests. It has two of them.”

“Look closely- do you sense emptiness in and around the nests? The birds have flown away, and it must have been at least a few weeks, isn’t it?”

“Look how windy it is today, but see, the tree holds them dearly, even as the winds pull its brittle branches along. When it snows, with its thin branches, it’d try to cover the nests. But to shelter whom; does it even know? To shelter this painful vacuum?”

“The only knowledge the tree has is that it gave the birds a home once upon a time, shielded it from rain and shine, and from the cold autumn winds…and that, today, the birds aren’t there, they have gone far…The tree pointlessly hopes that one day, the birds may come back…”

“You talk only from the trees’ point of view? Don’t the birds have their story to tell as well?”

“Tell me, what is their story? Won’t you? Are you one of the birds yourself?”

From a hammock in the forest

From a hammock in the forest
 
My tired body sunk into a hammock
High on a mountain where trees grow
Where grass feels free to scale high
Where fallen leaves roam at ease
 
Sunlight came in selective bursts
The branches wouldn’t let them all pass
I received what I needed though
Enough to show me the long lines
 
In the stillness, silence came by
No holds barred, she motioned,
No strings attached, she hushed,
Take it all, you need it, she nudged
 
I soaked in the moment’s beauty
When wind turned the pages,
And the trees shed a tear or two
Of yellowed leaves falling gently
 
The green rustled and ruffled,
Like youth crying for attention
The browned ones danced about
While the wind held their hands
 
I wished that moment wouldn’t arrive,
But go on forever and ever rather
The joy of life is to go on traveling
Waiting for the best moment to arrive

Continue reading

My changing moods

It was just the other day that I wrote in earnest that snow is mystical
And, look at me today; fretting and fussing over what I had named ‘white magic’
Stepping out on sheets of ice last evening, I feared I would slip and slide
Just when I thought I should caution him, I saw my 9 year old fall
I had written this too; that snow fills my heart with joy that I can’t express,
And that, it makes me introspective and even melancholic at times,
I indeed longed for it, when it wasn’t visiting for days on end,
All the longing seems to have vanished, at least for the moment,
This morning, it rained, melting all the snow and my frustration
Hours of windy rain washed away the white all-encompassing phenomenon
What is left now; lumps of whiteness with specks of dirt and wood,
Deserted on highways, county roads and inside housing complexes,
Pleading to stay on at least till their comrades arrive,
Children of yet another snow storm, they will be here shortly.
My moods change drastically, yet not so drastic as weather does these days!

Amen!

From frosted windows, I sing a song,
An ode to the grass, to the flowers,
From ice-clad meadows, about life underneath,
From still branches, pretending to be numb,
About buds and birds that have long been gone,
From thick-exhaust spewing cars without which I can’t do
My daily errands, or even drop my kids to school
About carefree walks under warm sunshine,
About jumping high to catch a mulberry branch,
During my daily morning walks,
About nibbling at soft-overripe fruits
From branches that boast heavily of their labor,
From closed doors, from the warmth of my house,
About the plight of the homeless I wonder,
As they putter about in dark subway alleys,
My song turns thus into a prayer,
In thanksgiving for all the warmth that I am blessed with,
For the warmth of my family and friends,
For the warmth of walls, for a roof that I can call mine,
For all the memories of sunshine days, birds and flowers,
There is always something to go back to!
Amen!

Wow!

Wow!

Wow! Through my kitchen window, I see tiny birds on the lawn, in dozens , peck endlessly. In between, they hop, and take short flights- their shadows sharing their earnestness and energy.

Wow! A soft breeze blows; leaves move gently, just the tips of branches making graceful steps in mid-air. They move again, making me wonder if they are dancing. Next to this big tree, there is a Pine; sturdy and evergreen, ripe with the knowledge that fall is here and now, and then winter and that it must stay on.

Wow! Very next to the Pine is an Apple tree; its branches heavy with fruit. I can just about see a few branches; there are more apples; pink and yellow than leaves. Wow! One apple just fell.

Two women out on their morning walk, in sportswear, one tossing a bottle of water even as they talk non-stop. Enjoying companionship. Enjoying beauty. Wow! They look happy, healthy and content.

The little birds? The ones that were peacefully pecking just a while ago? Hyper on food, they are launching themselves from the roof top, beak-diving into the bushes. They are like naughty children. Wow! This is quite something. And now, what? A couple of them are conferencing on a dish antenna; perched on its rim, oh, but that was just for a split second or so.

Wow! A flock of geese, energy-conservationists, heading south in a perfect V formation, making the most of a sunny day. Miles to cover before they rest. It’s a spectacle.
Wow! Life is beautiful.abeautifulday

Blissful rain

It’s drizzling here in Edison. Water droplets whispering soft. Touching the leaves, but not staying there as yet. They dribble down, the small channels, following the path shown by the drooping leaves. The leaves bathe in green. The most beautiful, the most soothing green. Afar, through the half-opened blinds of my neighbor’s, dim light flows tenderly, warm streaks that smile, cheer, and illuminate. The sky has pulled its white blanket on. The sun is under, sleeping in bliss. The lonely potted green cabbage in my piazza is overjoyed, its leaves refusing to let go the many drops of water that came visiting. Stay, please, don’t just go away.

The morning after

Image

The whole of yesterday, it poured. Little drops of rain kept trickling down the roof tops and the barks of trees. I woke up this morning to find the rain continuing to come down, in a contented, spirited fashion; inviting me to be a part of it.

After the rain subsided, I took a quick walk to the park where my daughter plays often. She couldn’t step in as the entire park was one big ‘muddy puddle’ according to her. And she added, ‘ if you want to step in the muddy puddles, you need to wear boots.’ Rain had deterred other fellow apartment folks from stepping out, and we had the entire stretch of green for ourselves. The beauty of these lonely moments is the time and space it gives me, for listening to the inner voice, for the easy calm that prevails even when the birds chatter and twitter their way to glory. My daughter embraced silence after expressing her fine sentiments about the park and the puddles, and decided to sharpen her ears to capture all the bird sounds coming from the thick thickets in the adjoining wild land.

Imagine, just the two of us, juxtaposed against the untended green. We walked up to the fence that separates our vast meadow, as green as ever, from the greener terrain beyond; trees of all sizes, bushes of all shapes, tufts of grass heads, small and tall, host to a great many birds. The birds, happy after the showers, were singing about the resplendent beauty around, about the oodles of positive energy that pervaded the atmosphere. Their songs oozed so much happiness and cheerfulness, that it made me smile. When a bird called from what seemed like the left, in tandem, we looked to the left and repeated this to songs from the right. It was a moment of bliss in all its truthfulness.

We walked up to the brook that flows in through the condo complex. From a distance we heard it rumble, mumble. Just a few days ago, when I had walked by this brook, the trees were largely barren, their leaves only beginning to make their presence felt. But today, the trees looked mighty and powerful, spreading their ornate branches far and wide, giving us a great sense of security. Their leaves; a display of green, in its most luxuriant hues. The brook flowed by without expecting any compliments as it was one big ‘muddy river’. But its energies were passed onto me dutifully. I can’t put my finger on that feeling that ensconces me during such moments. I am definitely happier than my usual self, I feel blissful, but it’s something beyond that. I wish I could stay there forever, listening to the brook murmur, the woods hum, the birds sing, without expecting anything in return. They, I know for sure acknowledge my presence, for they come up to my heart, and touch it in more ways than one, in such depths that I cannot fathom my own contentedness.

I am a daughter of the wild, and I will continue to be one.