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Spring: The Ungive of Snow Bones

I have blogged about spring before – it happens every year after all. I have walked plenty this week, and seen much that is new after the dank, dour months of a brown winter: tight-budded pinpricks studding the hawthorn, a lone bee and butterfly brushing against cream walls, both discombobulated by the sun. A battalion of birdsong firing over the rooftops and this unnamed tactile splendour: a catkin that’s been down the gym.

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And yet, as the snowdrops bloom with all their puny might, with the blowsy crocuses and uniform daffodils following hard on their delicate white heels, I  always think of the Fran Landesman lyric, that spring can really hang you up the most. The Landesman lyrical sentiment is taken from the opening lines of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land

I. The Burial of the Dead

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

The words speak of change, which many of us are hardwired to resist although we generally seem to do worse, psychologically speaking, with external circumstantial changes, not directly within our control. Every year we are aware that spring, a change, is coming about this time – and we might feel, for the most part, that the seasonal change is welcome after months of short, dark days. So what of Eliot’s Waste Land?

For me, it is stark reality of bright light on the ‘dead land’ that unsettles. The sunscald in what once passed for a garden, the illumination of winter dust suddenly strewn everywhere… the fear that spring will, this time, undo us. These tensions provoke action. Spring cleaning and gardening for some, artistic productivity in others. Busyness will save us from the memory and desire, stirring, we hope.

Yes, April is the cruellest month. Be sure to enjoy March whichever way you can.

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The title of this post is inspired by a new book about language and nature titled ‘Landmarks‘ by Robert MacFarlane and published in hardback this week.

N.b. This post has given me terrible trouble what with dodgy punctuation and big ideas gone astray. Apologies if it does not quite cohere.

Brain as deranged sausage machine (or Chick Corea)

Warning: this post may carry traces of incoherence. Wash your hands when you leave.

When I am under pressure to do one thing, my brain starts doing a million other things.

‘Let’s not focus on that,’ it says. ‘Let’s do this instead. Far more interesting, doncha think?’

I used to call it procrastination, but it’s not really. Or if it is, it is procrastination in a jazz improvisation style. Which means you still produce something, but whether it is good or bad is entirely debatable…

This means I’ve been busy. I’ve been busy doing the things I didn’t mean to do, but which just took me over. It feels like my brain, when it is told to go off and make a nice quiet pork pie (no jelly), suddenly starts throwing out a wild and misshapen string of noisy sausages instead. Jazz? sausages? I did warn you.

So now, instead of a nice neat chapter I’m surrounded by poems, a load of photographs, a big load of catching up with Immanuel Kant (who I barely understand a sentence of, but thanks to Professor Sandel at Harvard, I adore) and the beginnings of a short story.

I quite like the short story. This is the opening passage. I might finish it.

A text.

She’s dying. At the hospital. Switching the m/c off.

We couldn’t understand it at first. It was Sunday. The radio was on, playing something hip-hoppy. Easy Like Sunday Morning? We might all love it (secretly), but you can’t live your life in some throwback cliché, can you? Especially when middle-age shakes you awake in the mirror each morning.

‘Those wrinkles. Grey hairs. Already? But I’m not ready.’

We might be able to keep Lionel’s chin and the Commodores at bay in our house, but texts about death? They will come whether we like it or not. We don’t. It used to be in the post: death, like taxes, or at least a polite knock on the door, or a phone call. Now it’s via text, announcing itself with a dissonant bleep. Or, worse still, Facebook.

‘Spring can really hang you up the most’

pond reflection

Yesterday in the park. Lyrics by the now departed Fran Landesman. A jazz standard that I hear in my head with Ian Shaw singing, accompanying himself on the piano. Beautiful and poignant.

Once I was a sentimental thing;
Threw my heart away each spring.
Now a spring romance
Hasn’t got a chance.
Promised my first dance to winter.
All I’ve got to show’s a splinter
For my little fling.

Spring this year has got me feeling
Like a horse that never left the post.
I lie in my room
Staring up at the ceiling.
Spring can really hang you up the most.

Morning’s kiss wakes trees and flowers,
And to them I’d like to drink a toast.
But I walk in the park
Just to kill the lonely hours.
Spring can really hang you up the most.

All afternoon the birds twitter-twitt.
I know the tune. This is love, this is it.
Heard it before
and don’t I know the score.
And I’ve decided that spring is a bore.

Love seems sure around the new year.
Now it’s April. Love is just a ghost.
Spring arrived on time,
Only what became of you, dear?
Spring can really hang you up the most.
Spring can really hang you up the most.

College boys are writing sonnets
In their tender passion they’re engrossed
While I’m on the shelf
With last years easter bonnets
Spring can really hang you up the most

Love came my way. I thought it would last.
We had our day, now it’s all in the past.
Spring came along, a season of song,
full of sweet promise
but something went wrong.

Doctors once prescribed a tonic.
Sulfur and molasses was the dose.
Didn’t help one bit.
My condition must be chronic.
Spring can really hang you up the most.

All alone, the party is over.
Old man winter was a gracious host.
But when you keep praying
For snow to hide the clover,
Spring can really hang you up the most.

Something for my sister

as per DIDIT request ~ the inheritance track. More to come.

I have no idea if Grandpa listened to Monk, but he did listen to jazz and I like this playful, yet moody piano composition without the interference of a brass section – and I am pretty sure I can hear Thelonious using his elbow to play!

This makes me smile.

More, but different, from Gregory Porter: Be Good

This track hearts my hurt to hear it ♫ ♥ (jazz) ♥ ♫

From his new album, out in February.

This cat got it going on, y’all