Thursday, March 1, 2012

Undisguised and naked

I wrote this post last spring, and bring it back here now to recognize what feels an awful lot like, well, spring...

Houses and rooms are full of perfumes, the shelves are crowded with perfumes,
I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it,
The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.
The atmosphere is not a perfume, it has no taste of the distillation, it is odorless,
It is for my mouth forever, I am in love with it,
I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked,
I am mad for it to be in contact with me.
                                          Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

Right now in our fair ville, spring blooms are blowing up all over the place. Since January with the yellow Carolina jessamine, we have had a constant blur of color. In my neighborhood, rows of pink and white dogwood trees line the streets, piles of pink, white and various shades of red azaleas front the houses, and the noble trees are shedding flowers, leaving the allergy afflicted whining and oozing. It’s the type of shocking gaudiness that had TS Eliot thinking that April was the cruelest month, perhaps because of his own allergies.
Like Walt Whitman, I like the perfumes, but I will not let them intoxicate me. I prefer the blooming in the woods, where wild dogwoods are scattered about, white blooms floating among the greening forest. Wild forsythia fronds splay nearer the ground. The forest blooms more subtly, more naturally, perhaps, and you have to broaden your gaze to catch glimpses of flowers.
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Small things, blooming in patches.
Redbuds peak through the trees; closer to the ground purple and white flowers tint the mosses, but you have to look closely. To run in the spring woods reminds me of my intentions, to be a part of something much larger than myself, a nature that in many cases excludes us, sometimes harsh and forbidding. I give my attention to the small things, and begin to feel a pull, becoming not as one but as a piece of the whole, where the feeling of oneness depends exactly on our separateness. Each tree, each bloom, each rocky footstep, each breath, each pounding heartbeat, each rotting limb. As the detritus of the forest decays into life-giving soil, so too do the parts of my immediate surroundings coalesce into life-affirming epiphany.
But only for the moment, and then the return. Back into a design not of nature but of human beings, our division of gossip and toil and worry, fueled by a need for wealth and recognition and extraction.
Until the next run, and the attempted fulfillment of my deepest hope to become undisguised and naked.

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