"The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her
loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also."
HARRIET ANN JACOBS, as seen on brainyquote.com
Spring is still in its early stages in these parts - snow is gone in our garden but there are a few icy patches here and there in the area. We spotted the green nubs of the crocuses one day this week under the oak tree. The next morning we were disappointed to find they'd been nibbled off - guess Mr. Rabbit was waiting for them as eagerly as we were. While our world is still brown and we wait for the nights to stay above freezing, I hungrily gather images of the season from sources other than nature:
- poetry books with their sections on spring themes;- nature books such as Nature Writing for Every Day of the Year (Jane McMorland Hunter), Spring Anthology (Melissa Harrison), and Emma Mitchell's nature diary The Wild Remedy;- magazines filled with spring imagery and bright photography such as Country Life and Victoria;- my blogging friends who live where spring arrives earlier and share their photos.
Even my own memories are pressed into service. I remember my siblings and I looking for pussy willows in the early spring when I was a girl. And while I wait, I use my imagination, what Wordsworth refers to as 'the inward eye which is the bliss of solitude'. And imagine daffodils dancing in the breezes.
Today I feel so grateful for the gift of being alive. For the gift of observation as I watch the clouds building in the spring blue skies. I listen to the birds singing and wait for the song of the first robins to arrive in our area - haven't heard them yet. I watch the trees, squinting as we drive along forested edges on the highway for any noticeable changes to their dormant browns. Surely I see the faintest hint of green on the bare branches, or am I just wishful thinking?
I'm not impatient, but I am so leaning forward.
I turn to lines written by Dorothy Wordsworth, sister to William, from The Grasmere Journals (1802). As I read these lines, they make me feel alive with anticipation... and joy:
"When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow Park we saw a few daffodils close to the water-side. We fancied that the sea had floated the seeds ashore, and that the little colony had so sprung up. But as we went along there were more and yet more; and at last, under the boughs of the trees, we saw that there was a long belt of them along the shore, about the breadth of a country turnpike road. I never saw daffodils so beautiful. They grew among the mossy stones about and above them; some rested their heads upon these stones, as upon a pillow, for weariness; and the rest tossed and reeled and danced, and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind, that blew upon them over the lake; they looked so gay, ever glancing, ever changing ... There was here and there a little knot, and a few stragglers higher up."
I peek into Elizabeth von Arnim's delightful novel The Enchanted April (1922) and read this favourite passage. It's when Mrs. Wilkins opens the shutters on her first morning and looks out:
"All the radiance of April in Italy lay gathered together at her feet. The sun poured in on her . . . and underneath her window, at the bottom of the flower-starred grass slope from which the wall of the castle rose up, was a great cypress, cutting through the delicate blues and violets and rose-colours of the mountains and the sea like a great black sword.She stared. Such beauty; and she there to see it. Such beauty; and she alive to feel it. Her face was bathed in light. Lovely scents came up to the window and caressed her. A tiny breeze gently lifted her hair. Far out in the bay a cluster of almost motionless fishing boats hovered like a flock of white birds on the tranquil sea. How beautiful, how beautiful. Not to have died before this . . . to have been allowed to see, breathe, feel this . . . She stared, her lips parted. Happy? Poor, ordinary, everyday word. But what could one say, how could one describe it? It was as though she could hardly stay inside herself, it was as though she were too small to hold so much of joy, it was as though she were washed through with light."
Ahh. I feel that, as if I'm standing there by the window myself, letting the beauty wash over me. I think of that ancient line in Isaiah 6:3, 'The whole earth is full of His glory'—as I imagine that morning alongside Lottie Wilkins, I feel it to be true.
On another note, I am taking some time away from the blog to work on other writing projects. It's the middle of April, we're a quarter through the year, and I'm not anywhere near a quarter through my audacious writing project list for 2023. Plus, we are taking a short road trip to another province for my niece's college graduation next week. So I won't be around for the next while. I'll try not to be away too long. I'll think of you often. Until then...
Happy dreaming and my best wishes for a beautiful Spring,
Top: Image by Ralph from Pixabay
Middle and bottom: Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life, 2017
I love that you are patient while also "leaning forward." That's a wonderful way to describe the anticipation. Beautiful photos and book passages to share. Thank you...ReplyDelete
You know, Vee, when I wrote that line, I almost said I was impatient, but then I realized I wasn't. We've had a slow but sure unfolding of Spring thus far, and I have enjoyed the meandering of it. Not any of that sudden thrust from -20 to +15 in 24 hours, but a gradually building up to the fairer weather. Yes, I have enjoyed it. But I am now more than ready for the greens to burgeon. Maybe next week it will begin to pop out.Thanks for your note. xoDelete
Spring is just around the corner, dear Brenda, and maybe by the time you get back from your trip you will see some signs. I love the passage from 'The Enchanted April'. It really conveys that giddy feeling of opening the windows on a warm spring day. Safe travels and hope you have sweet inspiration for your writings. x KReplyDelete
That's what I'm hoping for as well, Karen. That we'll see the hints of green on the trees and in the ditches as we travel. Thanks for your note! xoDelete
Brenda, your post is always beautiful and warm my heart ♥💕❤ . Thank youReplyDelete
Aww, Mr. Puddy, I'm so happy to know you are well enough to visit blogs with your mom. Sending lots of purry hugs and wishes. xoDelete
Thank you, Rajani.Delete
Oh you just add so much “”happiness to my days!!!!!🤗 I really need to keep a copy of each blog to revisit and bit by bit take in all that you share with us.
The weather in Ohio since Easter has been BEAUTIFUL! It is the “birdsong” in the early mornings that I open my doors to. A friend gave me 3 bunches of daffodils and they are SO bright and lovely. Had recently purchased an antique light green pitcher and viola! The daffodils found a new home on my counter!!
I wonder what your writing project list contains. Certainly send lots of encouragement to you for looking at those wishes and tasks!
You have given us SO much to go through “Spring” with. Thank you. One of your quotes so spoke to me; being SO thankful for all the beauty of Spring that I get to hear, see and smell!!! Definitely our spirits take in and feel extra joy!!
Enjoy your time away!!🌝🤗
Dear Ann (I assume this is your note, it feels like your voice). Thank you for your note today. You always add such happiness to my own days with your lovely thoughts and affirming words. I am imagining your daffodil bunches in that lovely antique light green pitcher... making your kitchen bright and beautiful. Wishing you a beautiful day. xoDelete
"I'm not impatient, but I am so leaning forward." Oh yes, I feel that too. I planted tulip, crocus, and snowdrop bulbs in the fall and I'm so anxious to see that first bit of green spiking through the ground. Nothing yet. And ... you are the second writer this week who has inspired me to to read The Enchanted April. It must be meant to be. :) Thank you for bringing me joy today, Brenda. I'll miss your writing here while you are away working hard on other things. Godspeed.ReplyDelete
Oh Joy, you will love the book. And there are so many lovely editions out there now. Will you get a paper copy or a kindle book? Thanks for your good wishes about my writing list - hoping for great grace! Thanks for your note. xoDelete
I didn't know Wordsworth had a sister who wrote, Brenda. I would love to see that area of daffodils everywhere. And I love when others value The Enchanted April, one of my very favorite books. I have around six of her books, most newer paperback editions but my copy of Enchanted April is very old with lovely artwork. You've quoted one of my favorite portions, the line "Such beauty; and she there to see it" has become more and more my prayer of thankfulness the older I get.ReplyDelete
Happy writing to you, Brenda!
I came across Dorothy years ago in a beautiful used bookshop where we found a beautiful old copy of her journal. It was a lovely read at the time. She was as beautiful a writer as her well known brother but didn't seem to have the same opportunities, and perhaps she was happy to remain in the background, supporting her brother's writing. I'm glad we have her journals available today. // And that line you mention from The Enchanted April, oh my, that is a forever favourite for me as well. Thanks so much, Dewena, for sharing. Always love when you do. xoDelete
Enjoy your time away. Perhaps by the time you come home spring will be in full bloom. It is still chilly here and some snow around, but I am anticipating spring to arrive shortly.ReplyDelete
Today was a perfect spring day. Lots of sunshine and warm air. The days have been gradually getting warm. Soon, soon. Thanks, Ruth, for stopping by.Delete
Stealing a few moments to catch up in the blogging world today, Brenda, and I enjoyed reading about how you're waiting for spring! When the seasons seem to linger, I always remember God's promise to Noah: "“While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease.”</i" You have chosen some lovely ways to anticipate spring in the waiting!ReplyDelete
May your time away from the blog be full of happy productivity . . . oh, and family togetherness too!
What a treat to find your note here, Cheryl. I know you've been busy. You've remembered a lovely promise. Thank you for your good wishes - much appreciated.Delete
I wish you much joy in your audacious writing project, a wonderful little getaway roadtrip, and sweet moments as you anticipate full Spring.
I was so interested to see you quoting Dorothy Wordsworth from The Grasmere Journals, for I didn't know about them until this very week when reading "What She Ate". The first woman mentioned is Dorothy. How sad that in later life she suffered so much mental and physical distress. The lines you've quoted are full of the magic of spring and truly uplifting to read on a grey drizzly day here.
"Such beauty; and she there to see it" is often my thought when beauty startles me with her presence.
I love the serendipity of you finding info about Dorothy one after the other. Makes a person stop and pay attention when that happens. It was sad to know she suffered during her lifetime. That line from The Enchanted April - it's a keeper line, isn't it! It catch the awe and wonder of it all. Such a privilege, such a gift. Thanks, Lorrie. Hope you have a wonderful week ahead.Delete
Oh my! I will miss you, Brenda! Take care, and have safe travels! Hopefully you will make progress on your writing project. I do find that it’s impossible to work everything into the time we have. There are choices that have to be made. We are in East Tennessee and currently my town is celebrating the Dogwood Arts Festival. Dogwoods, azaleas, and other lovely spring blossoms create beautiful scenes. Your brown will turn to green soon!ReplyDelete
Oh Nellie, I envy you your dogwood, azaleas, and other spring blooming plants. How lovely that must be in East Tennessee. It's so true, it's impossible to work everything into the time we have. As you say, choices must be made. I just thought if I take some time to focus on one writing project, other than my blog, I might make some headway. It will be good. I look forward to our little road trip next week. I went shopping for a few new spring things to wear. Because where I'm going no one will have seen any of my old spring outfits, so new things must be purchased. Haha. I'll be back soon. Take care, Nellie! xoDelete
Oh Brenda!!! How touched and happy I am this morning to see your reply to me!!!☺️. It is a very special thing when someone “ knows your voice.” Honored that you “know” something of me to have known me in my words. 💗🙏ReplyDelete
I must have done “anonymous” long ago just because I didn’t “get” or didn’t take the time to set up an account???🥺😌
In any event I feel such happiness that you sensed and knew “my voice.” That’s a God blessing to me!!
It is a BEAUTIFUL morning here in Ohio and on my back patio! It is the 1st morning I could be outside by 7:15 with great, welcoming temperatures!!!
I am slowly adding flowers to my little “sanctuary” which bring such joy to “Spring!” Just have to check to see what the visiting deer don’t like!!!!😂
Have a happy day ahead!!!!
Much love to you!!💗🌸🙏~ Ann
Thanks, Ann, for confirming that the early note was, indeed, from you! Wishing you a beautiful week ahead. xoDelete
I was thinking just the other day how grateful I am that so far this year, Spring has unfolded as I remember when I was growing up - slowly! As you responded to Vee, it hasn't jumped from -20 to +15 in 24 hours for us, either.
Though I am in Ohio (even as another commenter is) and we have not had a terribly cold winter at all - for which I'm grateful.
Thank you for sharing the quotes from both Dorothy Wordsworth and Elizabeth von Arnim. I'm going to have to go searching for those books :D
I wish you safe travels and blessings as you work on your writing project!
God bless you and keep you,
Carolyn, I find it interesting that we have felt similarly - preferring the gradual unfurling of Spring's warmth and greenery to those sudden and oft startling seasonal changes. (I find I like to get up in the morning that way as well - slowly and gradually, not having to hurry to be anywhere.) I hope you are able to find those books - both are lovely reads. Thanks so much for your good wishes. Hope you have a pleasant week ahead.Delete
We have had such a cold spring so far, I'm right there with you today, longing for Real Spring to arrive. It's so cold and cloudy, I would build a fire in the stove, if I hadn't already put away all the equipment, cleaned up the area, and moved a love seat in front of the fireplace, for Pascha.ReplyDelete
Reading Enchanted April does sound like a hopeful sort of activity. I think I might just listen to that as I am settling down for a nap!
Hi Gretchen, I first came upon The Enchanted April when the British film came out in 1991 or '92. Loved it and didn't know at the time that it was based on Elizabeth von Arnim's book with the same name. I hope you enjoy listening to this seasonal story as you settle for a nap.Delete
Thanks for reminding me of The Enchanted April...may be time for a re-read.ReplyDelete
Enjoy your blogging break.
Hi Margie, I am enjoying my revisit of The Enchanted April - it's perfect for this time of year. Hope you enjoy it as well.Delete
A most lovely post, as always, Brenda. Enjoy your well-deserved break! The robins are here in western Massachusetts. Want me to send a few to you? Daffodils are growing and blooming profusely. It is a most lovely time of year!ReplyDelete
What a lovely post, Brenda. Spring here is soon turning to summer weather next week. I hope your days are productive with writing, and I look forward to what you will post here when you return.ReplyDelete
Brenda love the passage from "Enchanted April". What a wonderful way to describe a lovely spring moment. I certainly hope you enjoy your time away. Wishing you the best with your writing projects. Hugs!ReplyDelete