These are some of the not-yet-blooming blossoms on one of the cherry trees at the front of our driveway. They have been very sick trees the last few years.
The weather has been unkind for to flowering trees. Dry winters are hard on them; wet springs are hard, too, because they give fungi a chance to infect and spread easily. These two trees lost most of their leaves two years running, so I was hoping for a good spring this year.
We had a week of rain, though—but now abundant sunshine, and everything is drying out, and I think the trees are in better shape than they have been for quite some time.
I like the red-on-red of these barely open blossoms. They look vital, firm, full of life. This is what spring is for: to remember: we get another year. We get another hope. We get beauty.
Photographed with the always wonderful Zeiss Otus 100mm f/1.4 lens. I took two shots, one shifted sideways, and combined them into an extra-wide shot to center these beautiful blossoms. I also liked the tree bark at right—with the reminder of lichen on it, a reminder of those two foul springs when all the bad things grew on our trees, and the leaves left.
There is no resurrection without death, no beautiful recovery of vitality without loss. We breathe in, we breathe out; nature care not a bit more for us than it does for the blossoms on fruit trees, but we all get a shot, we all make the best, we take our rough years and we fight on, fight on, fight on: and then we’re here again.
Why is that so important to me? Well, I didn’t exactly broadcast it but I lost my mind about eight years ago. We don’t know why, but important parts of my brain shrunk. (No one will say it was from under utilization, but I did worry I’d worn it out prematurely!). It has hilarious at times (“They think I know what words are!!!”) it was deeply sad at others (not remembering what it was like to think a few thoughts in a row).
The saddest part was that I lost my ability to write. I have written copiously all my life, and I got to a point where words were awfully difficult to remember, and stringing them together was far too advanced for me to even try.
I could still do a lot of things, but writing seemed to be over.
After a year or two, I thought that perhaps I could write little poems, so I began composing Haiku. Just 17 words per poem, and at the start even that was a fair hill to climb, but gradually, I began to understand the form and could write some that pleased me.
Another year, then another year, and I ventured into writing longer poems - tens of lines, some of them. Gradually, I could hold a thought for longer, but I’ll be honest: these were not great poetry, often not even useful poetry. But I can report that screaming artlessly into the night, in progressive larger and larger articulations, was healing and satisfying, and I am thankful even that I was wise enough to understand that something in me finds joy even in bad writing. Just getting words to spill is like pouring wine, and even cheap wine can be satisfying when you can barely afford it.
There was a point where they measured my brain parts again, and lo and behold, a miracle had occurred; my hippocampus, which had shrunk to the lowest tenth of a percentile, was suddenly way back up there in the Big leagues (90th). I wrote and I wrote and I wrote and so on. Joy.
And then I noticed that my poems were no longer circular, no longer hollow; I had things to say (though I wasn’t going to share them; poetry still feels way too personal to me to share. It’s so naked, so full of hope and hate and joy and disgust; it’s tough to digest).
And then came a day, not so very long in the past, when I thought to write prose again. I used to write how-to books of one sort or another—some crusty and fussy and highly technical, some soaring with my love the techniques. But I was done with that, I felt; my dream was always to write a novel. (Short stories as a prelude; fine—but I feel in my bones the symphonies that build in my head, and getting one of those out would be fantastic, nothing less than joy incarnate).
So a novel I am writing. And it’s working; I certainly love the writing of it. Letting my imagination fly, pushing it higher, enjoying the view of reality from rarefied air—nothing beats it.
I’m not going to spill the beans, other than to say I’m writing what I love, which is science fiction. I will be looking for readers once it takes some useful shape, and if you are interested you can certainly let me know any time, I’d love that. I understand the strange dichotomy of writing: the impulse is strong and beautiful, but it doesn’t mean you’re automatically a great writer. For now, I’ll settle for the joy of words spilling out of me faster than I can put them down, and see where that road goes and what the quality of my asphalt is.
Should you have the thought, after reading this, that perhaps there’s something you’ve not been doing that you love, accept my testimony: to do such things, wow: there is nothing that beats, not even a good stick.