ODE TO SPRING

ODE TO SPRING – In April, the first Cherry Blossoms bloom and birds flit about–where cold rain gives way to successive days of clear skies–prior to the onset of June gloom. This time of year my memories revert back to a more pastoral time of life, with high meadows, box canyons, mountain jays, mule deer, gnarled juniper and Indian paint brush … of a high altitude Continental Divide. When I’m feeling wistful, I sit on my outdoor balcony, overlooking Glen Park, in San Francisco. When I’m there; I see any number of finches, squirrels, hummingbirds and even the occasional fly. I’m always surprised how few flies, mosquitoes or mayflies are here in the city. Spring symbolism holds deep meaning as I’m reminded (once again) that I’m a country boy living in the big city. Perhaps that’s why I will always be sentimental for garden gnomes, hummingbird feeders, seed cakes, sweet pea vines and bird baths. A mini-vacation (if only in my mind and only for a moment) far away from a landscape of zero lot-lines, streets with pot holes, storm drains that flow into the bay and handi-cap accessible ramps etched into sidewalks corners. ‘Of beechen green, and shadows numberless, singest of summer in full-throated ease.’ Excerpt taken from Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats circa 1819. 


THE COMPLETE NEW YORKER

The Complete New Yorker: Eighty Years of the Nation's Greatest Magazine (Book & 8 DVD-ROMs)The Complete New Yorker: Eighty Years of the Nation’s Greatest Magazine by David Remnick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

THE COMPLETE NEW YORKER – Billed as ‘The Nation’s Greatest Magazine’, I purchased the binder of eight DVD’s (with every page from 1925 to 2005) for pennies on the dollar. Don’t pay full price! Go to Amazon and buy a new or used set. What has ‘The Complete New Yorker’ got that no one else has got? More short fiction than you can (probably) read in a lifetime. As an English major, in my first year at state university, I learned the gold standard of the short story was contained therein. In the almost thirty years since, I’ve turned to the New Yorker, time and time again. Load a DVD on your laptop, to carry decades of issues with you, to travel wherever you go. A short story is the perfect choice to read in a single sitting, while commuting by train or by plane, for example. Treat yourself to the very best international writers literature has to offer. If you’re a hard-copy person, print single pages, I recommend you adjust your printer settings, to significantly darken the text. My single criticism of the DVD set is that the printed pages are faint and the text is not crisp. Regardless, there is no better way to browse literature in a more economical, compact or readily accessible format. This is truly the best of the best!

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MENDING WALL

Mending Wall by Robert Frost circa 1914
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors’.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.