After a too long absence, I'm posting a recent Poem/Prose piece I wrote on 4/17/11 after an outing with my grandson. Springtime is still eluding us but we've gotten sparkling glimpses of it these past few days. I'm hoping there will be some posts in the next week from the poets who come to my Poetry Workshop at our First Poetry Festival tomorrow, Saturday 4/30/11. Hope to see all of you tomorrow at our QWG Poetry Fest! M-L
WANDERING WITH CRAIG
Spun in fallen branches
"A world without
Craig told me.
What is there to fear?
Not spiders crawling near
Nor winter never ending.
M-L Ruth 4/17/11
My grandson Craig and I spent the afternoon wandering down Chandler Road, wending our way towards the river at Oakland Camp, the special swimming hole for 14 year old boys when summer heats up the air. But this rainy day is still a long way from summer, barely yet spring. Even though we drove in my car, it felt like ambling, windows down to feel the damp chilly air yet avoiding the dripping, icy rain.
On the way we spied a sand hill crane, foraging in the swampy meadow. Craig told me that cranes have voracious appetites before mating and eat everything indiscriminately.
"Field mice, birds, anything they can scavenge," he said, "though normally cranes eat fish." Water fare. But sex requires more strenuous food. More and more of it. To energize the wild, jumping, flapping, dance. To make new life. To keep their crane species alive.
Further down the road we saw a large herd of deer, some so scruffy, I wondered how they'd made it through the winter. One deer caught my eye, sleek and sinewy, its coat sheened with strength. When the other deer skittishly bounded away, it stood its ground, languidly staring us down until it joined its herd, majestically bringing up the rear.
Along the way I glimpsed some sparkling down the slope on my side of the road and stopped the car to get a closer look. "Are those bright flowers?" I wondered out loud. Spring blooms too early? "Nah," Craig replied, his eyes sharper than mine. As my focus zoomed in I realized the glistening couldn't be petals. "It's only snow crystals," Craig explained, pulling his collar closer as the cold air rushed in when I flung open my door. "Let's take a photo," I exclaimed. He shrugged away my silliness. "We can use your phone," I shouted back to him as I scampered up the slope, intent to memorize the sparkling vision lighting up the drab, dead winter landscape. Craig clambered up to hand his camera phone to me despite the pointlessness of it to him. Excitedly I tried to snap the images of snow crystals snagged in spiderwebs draped like lacy shrouds capturing the last icy glimmer of winter in the fallen branches strewn all over the slope. The photos couldn't rival what I saw.
Near Oakland Camp, the river brimmed over its banks, sloshing across the narrow bridge, sheets of frothing water spreading out over the flat banks, racing across the meadow, tumbling through the weeds, coursing down its channel, crashing past whatever was in its way. According to Craig, the river would be even higher when the earth warmed up more and the mountain snows melted faster so that the wildly spreading river, surging over this same bridge, would pummel anyone in its way. Rushing, curling, splashing, spraying its cold, cold droplets over warm flesh. Cooling summer's body heat with the last drops of winter.
It was difficult to leave the excitement of the river. Craig walked across the next dry bridge, scouting fishing spots to explore in calmer, warmer days at the true end of winter. We dallied down the last mile of Chandler Road, even detoured onto a side road over railroad tracks, a narrower stream, past well kempt homes, a sole man raking branches and sodden leaves felled by the last storm, tending nature's wildness; we even climbed further uphill when the black-topped road ended. Up. Up. Until I grew too timid, worried we'd get stuck without four-wheel drive to get us through. Craig clearly wanted to go further, to see what was beyond the next curve, but sensing my discomfort agreed to turn around and head back down to Chandler Road.
Before we reached the highway, Craig shouted, "Stop. Stop." I braked to watch the waterfall tumbling down the craggy hillside on one side of us, into the rock strewn stream leveling out into the meadow on the other side of the road. Craig leapt from the car in a quiet, quick motion, silently watching for fish as the stream rushed beneath the bridge. When he jumped back into the car, his words tumbled out of him, like the water gushing down the hillside, and told me of his bike ride with a friend when they'd ridden miles on these same roads on a hot summer's day and had stopped at this same stream, parched with thirst and scrambled down the rocks to scoop up cold water to drink. Instead, the streamside teemed with black, gnarly spiders, thousands of them darkening the rocks in a black, moving mass.
"Ugh," I said. "What did you do?"
He shrugged. "Got back on our bikes and rode away."
"Spiders are pretty scarey," I continued, clutching the steering wheel with a quick shiver.
"Ama, the world would be an apocalypse of insects without spiders," he patiently explained, dismissing my fear.
"Great image… an apocalypse of insects." Can I use it in a poem?"
Craig shrugged again as we turned onto the highway heading home.