Love Song for Budding Colors and Bloody PawsMarch 29th, 2009
by Jennifer Duffield White
SARANAC LAKE, NY-
I shave my legs more often, dice green vegetables back into my diet, and find myself looking into the mirror in search of a favorable impression more often.
I let the v-lines of my shirt drop seductively low, unhindered by scarf or sweater.
And just now, as I was walking, I became aware of a sultry swing of the hips that has infiltrated my stride, stretching from swirled embroidery on jean pockets down to brown leather boots.
It is mating season.
So pipe the birds, as their mating songs rise to, yes, a climax, in these few weeks.
(Forgive me, I’ve latched onto the cliché of all clichés of spring bursting forth, but as we thaw out here in these northern woods, it swaggers in front of me, teasing lips into a smile. It has, as noted, taken over my body. It is, quite honestly, all I can write about.)
As the frozen earth thaws, it heaves the ground into giant bosomed swells (a.k.a. frost heaves).
The trails are still frozen in parts. You slide/skate on ice, one foot in front of the next, timid of adding too much of a bounce to your step until the sheeted ice suddenly gives way, seamlessly, to the soft mud.
And then you find yourself slowing down to the lovers’ stroll—slow, purposely so, yet not as much mindful of your gait as you are of what is being said and how your body reacts.
You notice breath, and afterwards, you realize how completely you inhabit the moment.
You notice how the new growth on the end of the maple branches tinges red before the green buds ever appear.
How the fir tree’s tips bleed a bright green to mark this year’s becoming.
How the white birch sweats tiny pearls of condensation along its cold, white bark, and how, in the thawing, the beads run down in wet streams, streaking the fragile paper.
How green the moss is.
How impossible it seems for there to be any moss at all, let alone a dense beard you find yourself wanting to touch.
You paw at the decaying leaves on the ground to uncover the tiny green tooth of an iris and the first shoots of sedum sprouting from the garden.
You realize you may have, in the white blindness of winter, forgotten, until now, how to see.
Raindrops are a naked man’s heartbeat.
The sun: some heat in the hollow of my neck that nearly undoes me.
Aside from the preening, the mating, and the singing, I must confess that being single, in spring, is the most desired state of mine.
A few years ago, the morning after I ended the most suffocating of dead-end relationships, I remember driving home, my dog in the backseat.
The sun shone. Spring rose.
We (my dog and I) stopped to pick up a friend’s garbage hound of a huskey/lab/irish setter in route.
It was mud season; we all had that crazy glint in our eye.
I parked the car at a turnout, walked down the trail towards the Raquette River.
I was free.
The dogs were free.
The garbage hound disappeared into the woods and killed a coon or a fox. (I couldn’t quite discern which, since he was slinking through the trees like a white wolf with his prey hanging long and lean from his mouth.)
And while I generally cringe at his particularly keen killer instinct, on this day, it felt nearly—disturbingly—natural.
He buried the limp animal.
We continued on our way: two dogs and a girl picking their way over the rocky trail, our rib cages impossibly wide, paws prancing, bloody, and knee deep in a spring of possibilities.
Jennifer Duffield White has duly noted that she has a habit (especially when counting down her time in a place) of dwelling upon the physical and seasonal. Thus, you can read more seasonal encounters here:
- Fall in the Adirondacks
- Surviving Winter (the experiment, we should note, worked delightfully well)
- Spring (as read here)
- Summer … (forthcoming)