Friday, March 19, 2010

Weeds and Peepers

So I'm taking something of a vacation from research today, and blogging is part of that vacation. So is biking. I took a picnic and a book, and my camera, on my bike, pedaling west to the little farm town of Kipton, 5 miles from Oberlin, on the old railroad, now bike trail.

What to report?

  • Clouds and jet trails blowing east in a stiff breeze above the old Town Hall. 

  • A chorus of spring peepers in a little swamp next to the bike trail. 
The noon sun slanting through trees on the bridge across the Vermilion River.
And weeds. . .

"Spring and all," by William Carlos Williams, one of my favorite poems. It sounds gloomy on first look, but it's not. It's about tenacious life, like the peepers. Williams was a doctor in New Jersey; the contagious hospital was part of his rounds.
By the road to the contagious hospital
under the surge of the blue
mottled clouds driven from the
northeast-a cold wind.  Beyond, the
waste of broad, muddy fields
brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen

patches of standing water
the scattering of tall trees

All along the road the reddish
purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy
stuff of bushes and small trees
with dead, brown leaves under them
leafless vines-

Lifeless in appearance, sluggish
dazed spring approaches-

They enter the new world naked,
cold, uncertain of all
save that they enter.  All about them
the cold, familiar wind-

Now the grass, tomorrow
the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf
One by one objects are defined-
It quickens:  clarity, outline of leaf

But now the stark dignity of
entrance-Still, the profound change
has come upon them:  rooted, they
grip down and begin to awaken


Mary VN said...

Nick, you've captured well the synchronicity between the poem and your photos.

mjcopeland said...

Nick, I enjoyed your bike ride, vicariously! I don't think we have spring peepers here in CA.