Saturday, April 15, 2006

Quick from the dead

You know how pure color can be really powerful sometimes? I remember once spending a good half hour enraptured with a yard of red satin I found in the sewing room because it was so smooth and so deeply red. I used to eat smarties from darkest to lightest and always examine the last white one, marveling at its perfect powdery whiteness, so bad for you but so pure in color. Yesterday I rediscovered green.

I spent half an hour before a contra dance wandering the edge of the 200 acres of woods at Swarthmore, which I had forgotten all about since my last proper visit there as a highschooler. As I zigzagged down slopes to the wide still creek a song we used to sing at Easter - Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain - was winding through my head. The tune's minor and almost creepy, medeival, and all the references to the dead and lying under the earth sort of seemed to fit the damp earth and the gray tangle of leafless branches all around.

Wheat that in the dark earth many days has lain

When I got to the waterside, the smell of the mud and things starting to rot in the spring warmth was strong. Compost is rotting dead things, and it's the best soil there is for growing in.

Love lives again, that with the dead has been

Looking up the slope from the dank water I saw the grey forest lacy with green at its crown - not the deep green of summer but that fleeting almost artificial-looking new green. Here and there a cherry tree sent spires of pale pink into the air.

As a child I believed that sentence in "The Ugly Duckling" about the mother duck allowing her children to look at the green leaves as much as they liked because green is good for the eyes. I would actually stare at leaves to improve my vision. At some point I realized that Andersen was no optometrist, but it still feels really good for something inside you. I stood there and marvelled at the pale green penetrating the gray in the dimming light. There was something in that newness and powerful sappy growth I could just get lost in.

Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

Easter used to be like a chemical in my bloodstream, something I could feel and would obey even after I stopped believing in the religion behind it. The more time passes the less effect it has on me, but something's still there. Before Easter, Europeans dedicated the month of April to Eostre, the spring goddess whose name means dawn. No matter how you celebrate rebirth it's good to mark the changing of the seasons, good to notice the newness of the earth. I had my sacrament in the gray-green woods yesterday.

No comments: