any minute now…
i check as many times a day as i can make up reasons for scooting out the side door, traipsing down the narrow blue-stone path. the path so bombarded with branches poking this way and that, you are forced to do a wiggle as you walk. the path that on both sides is flanked by reasons nos. 1 and 2 if you made me step up to the chalkboard to write, 100 times, what i most love about spring. i think.
certainly about the smell. the smell of spring, i mean.
east or west, it doesn’t matter. either way, i will soon be swooning. intoxicated by the heaven scent. lily-of-the-valley to the west. korean spice viburnum, easterly.
and if i do what i really drool to do, thrust myself into the epicenter of the bush, bury myself in its dizzying branches-on-the-verge, it will be viburnum to my north and south and east and west. it will be viburnum all around.
once it blooms, that is.
once those pulsing rosy teats, the ones clustered up above, side of sow without the pig, erupt, explode, divulge the olfactory notes that, right now, are crouching, curled up in the dark, counting down from 10, any second now, 6-5-4, about to, 3-2-1, pounce.
kabaam! in truest comic-book expression, the pheromones that make me crazy will be unleashed upon the world.
i might, if i’m lucky, be bombarded in the morning as i scoop my coffee into that little gold nest that so nicely perks it for me.
or perhaps its fine perfume will wend its way up my nostrils (an image i’m sure you appreciate) while, say, i’m slicing onion later in the day, thus unleashing a full-blown battle inside my nose for sensory supremacy.
boing! crash! splat! the sound of heady viburnum versus smelly onion having at it in my noggin.
oops, distracted once again. carried away, forgive me, by the mental picture of little boxing ring, and ions and electrons laced up in little puffy punching gloves.
what i mean to say is this: it’s all about the waiting. anticipation is the thing that punctuates the spring. with heartbreak on the downbeat.
anticipation defined: hope tearing off its clothes, bare naked, leaping into arms of what might be, what’s promised. pregnant expectation, spelled out in vernal form. everywhere you look, swollen possibility. circling labor room, waiting for delivery. bring on the towels and water. never mind the smelling salts; in that department, we are covered.
it is all about the waiting.
it’s all about the buds clenched tight. skin stretched. splitting open. ho-hum tender green gives way to technicolor.
yes, yes, it’s spring.
and spring, season of joy engorged, joy just about to burst, has lessons bound in tightly-wound anticipation. savor the waiting, it seems to tell us, for in the countdown comes the hurried, bated breath. the heartbeat quickened. the rapture on the edge. don’t miss the miracle, waiting for the blossom. don’t let the twiddling of your thumbs drown out the tick-tock of the now.
wait and wait and wait. and then, kapow, it comes. but, of course, the beauty never lasts. nor the celestial vapors.
it is, i’ve said before, the evanescence that makes it all the more clutched-to-heart, pressed-against-the-bosom.
and, if we pause to catch our breath, the very fleetingness itself might pound home the truth that we should not miss the marvel of the marching toward full-bloom. otherwise it’s over before we fill our lungs.
and, yes, when at last the cargo plane pulls in, hurls back the hatches, drops its aromatic load, do cartwheels on the runway. flip-flops while you’re at it. make a mighty ruckus.
any minute now, my viburnum will turn its blossoms inside out, rosy outer crust peels back, curls out of way, exposing inner softer pink, the tissue where perfume of angels hides.
the lily-of-the-valley, too, pure white bells, nodding, nodding soon. today wrapped tight, green umbrella closed, and then as leaves unsheathe, pirouette, the little nodding heads will brighten under light, and they too will exude their eau de bois.
grab it when it comes, i tell you. it won’t be arrested for public loitering. let loose. go mad with scissors and felco pruners. snip and clip. bring it in to where it freely wafts in a swirl right beneath your nose. give it tall cool drink. inhale with all your might.
it will be a long hard year, ’til once again it’s time to wait for spring to crowd your nasal caverns.
mon dieu, you whisper one to another, it seems our friend the chair lady has been inhaling after all. and maybe not just spring perfume. maybe things hallucinogenic. call it spring fever under wraps too tight. call it vernal madness. but tell me, do, what sweet scents shoot you over the glowing gibbous moon? and here’s the bonus question: what other moments in your life bring on such throbbing anticipation? do you find the magic in the waiting? or would you prefer to tear off the wrappings and the ribbon to get to the buried morsel deep inside?
I was in Kyoto a month ago, on the very day that the first pink/white blossoms opened on the bottom branches of the cherry trees in a nation that reveres its cherry blossom season, for just the same reasons as our chief chair lady. On the grounds of the former Imperial Palace (used for 1000 years until 1868), there were so many people oohhing and aahhing over the blossoms that I could not get close enough to the trees for a picture. But I did get a photo of an old man, taking a photo of a young woman, who was taking a close up of a cherry blossom branch. And, I took another photo of a zippy-looking art institute student doing a pencil drawing of a newly opened magnolia. Plus, I took a third shot of two elderly women (ha! probably in their 50s, like me!) standing before their easels painting the cascading of a border of weeping willow trees along the walking path. Back at the hotel, there was a metallic board where the concierge would place an over-sized magnetic cherry blossom next to the name of the tourist sites–temples, palaces, castles and parks–where the flowering could be spotted and inhaled. BAM, maybe there is a bit of Japanese in your Irish blood!
Because about 80% of what is in my brain streams through a filter of children’s books, I can only recommend one to today you bam. The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas, ill. Helen Oxenbury. A very goofy, upside-down rendition of the traditional tale which reaches its resolution via the intoxicating, healing power of the scents of flowers. That’s all I’ll say.I’m waiting too. We wait through all this mud, this gray, this wet, these teasing uneven temperatures for something wonderful all right, and it is nearly upon us.
And what a delicious photograph!