Tuesday, April 12, 2011


There is nothing new under the sun. True or false?

This afternoon I tear myself away from revising old blog posts (as a book) to find the grist for a new one, because it's extraordinary out there. In the seventies! (Septaguinta!) Then Matt comes home. We should play tennis, I suggest (though my heart is telling me to ride my bike out to the Brooks Estate in Medford, listen for new birds). But he's tired, finally. Feeling a little disingenuous, I say, that's okay, and maybe we'll play when I get back.

I ride to Brooks, following a zigzag route to Mystic River, up Saltonstall Rd., through the cemetery to the woods. Try to lock my bike; no keys. Left them at home. Never mind. I wheel the bike down the path to Brooks Pond, lean it against a tree. Mallards are quacking lustily and nonstop. I go for a look and hey! There's the hooded merganser that thinks it's a mallard, hanging out with the male and female mallard "like a Ukrainian orphan," in the words of my friend Ed. And better yet! There's the wood duck pair Ed told me about. Wood duck drakes have an Asian look, a green samurai helmet, as well as a North American look, broad bosky swatches of maroon browns and whites and blacks and greens and a red eye. The hen is gray with white tear-shaped goggles. A classy couple. I watch the hoodie and the woodies for a while, then steer my bike over to the deck at the end of the boardwalk, with built-in benches. The water is high and the planks creak ominously, but I lean the bike against the railing and sit down gingerly. And write:

There's nothing new under the sun. T or F?

And think about the conspiracy of spring. Literally a breathing together of us and new scents, subtle and un-. Not sure where that sweet spicy smell comes from, but it's wonderful. There are no other birds. Well, a few common ones: redwings, grackles, distant goldfinch and ringing flicker. This mild breeze must be Zephyrus, the west wind Chaucer talks about in his April prologue to The Canterbury Tales (Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote / the droght of March hath perced to the roote):

Whan Zephyrus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halve cours yronne,

It's a conspiracy because it's the old oxygen/CO2 exchange and because we're not in on it the way the rest of nature is. They're all collaborating, or being collaborated upon by this urgent warm wind that is urging up green blades and buds and leaflets, and conjuring up flowers, daffodils and forsythia, that royal blue carpet of scylla at the foot of many an old tree. It's a sexy temperature, no doubt about it, reminding you of every other sexy day in April or May with a warm breeze stirring, so the answer is:

False. Everything is new under the sun to someone, and even if I've heard a goldfinch sing that way and felt a mild breeze like this one, why compare? It's not the same. It's always a brand new conspiracy.

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