Levity is a force in the natural world.
I am only beginning to comprehend it. We are aware of gravity’s draw down, and accept it as law—yet spring’s levity draws up and out, defying gravity. The very name “spring” counters “fall.” Sap rises in the trees (think about that), buds unfurl into leaves and blossoms. In places where the ground has frozen in the winter, the frost goes out in the spring, heaving the earth’s surface, loosening the soil, even lifting rocks and boulders.
It’s enough to lift anyone’s mood!
This maple near our house is just beginning to bud out, but high in the top were yellow… flowers? Goldfinches! What a celebration of spring sunshine!
The word Easter comes from the Middle English word ester, from the Old English eastre, from the Indo-European aus: “to shine.” The celebrations might predate humans. Here in the northern hemisphere the days are lengthening rapidly as the hours of sunlight increase. And even though I have experienced this phenomenon every year of my life, I am yet again as amazed as if it had never happened before—”Look! It’s still light!”
I love looking, and looking again, and then looking again, and then… There is no end to seeing when we keep looking.
It’s the unsettled month of March, blowing like a lion one moment and gentle as a lamb the next. The daffodils are now in full bloom with their lovely soft scent. The goldfinches are switching from their winter brown to their brilliant yellow plumage. When there’s a break in the clouds the yellow sun pours through the windows. We’re on the eve of the spring equinox, and yellow is bursting its winter confines!
The first time I painted outdoors was on the north shore of the island of Kauai, under the brooding presence of the mighty Pele. In the Hawaiian religion, Pele (pronounced [ˈpɛlɛ]), the Fire Goddess, is the goddess of fire, lightning, wind and volcanoes and the creator of the Hawaiian Islands. She begets her own weather, generating rainstorms that send torrents lashing down her sides; her peak is the wettest place on earth. As I settled myself on the beach and began painting, the massive cloud cloaking the volcano darkened. Her wind picked up, lifting the paint on my damp paper—suddenly I was not only painting Pele, I was painting with her. She decided where the paint would go, not I. It was quite the initiation to painting on site—to paint with a volcano is humbling.
In this part of Oregon we often get a little February break from the cold rain, when the clouds part and warm (sort of) sunshine pours in. We got such an interim this week. I was in downtown Eugene one afternoon, temporarily free of my winter coat and comfortable in only my wool sweater, when I saw this shorts-and-Tshirt-clad young man come wheeling along on his skateboard, dog in tow with one hand, fishing rod in the other. Was that Summer passing before my eyes? What month is this?! And if he is fine in shorts and short sleeves, why do I need wool and corduroys?
4:50am PST, January 31, 2018. Clouds had been forecast, but at our house the night was mostly clear, with wisps of mist veiling over the moon, making it appear to pulse. It was fun that it happened to be a “blue moon,” the second full moon in the calendar month; it was spectacular that it happened to be a “super moon,” the full moon closest to Earth in its elliptical orbit; it was magnificent as it became a “blood moon,” with the shadow of the Earth totally eclipsing its brilliant face, painting it red.