Our alpine bowl that glaciers made
From weak spots in the molten rock
Now shares the spotlight with a blade
Of grass, growing from the sudden shock
Of sun that carves a spring
As well as fissures in the snow,
Cracks that made our valley ping
All winter on this high plateau,
Summer buried with the floe,
With all its seeds of love and birth—
But today the fruits of hiding grow,
Secrets that we peel from earth,
Flowers that the waiting season yields
As mountains turn today to fields.
Beaten down by the long winter until we no longer believe in spring or its recuperative powers, each year we are as fooled by the first blades of grass that peel out of the seemingly endless snows as we are continually surprised by the resilience of the human spirit, the way jokes slip out of total exhaustion.
As I was thinking about life and death on the ski slopes, my friends Guy and Lori had a baby girl, Chandler Kanani, on May Day.
A butterfly flew in front of me, the first butterfly of the spring, emblem of death and betrayal in Mann and Nabokov, and yet harbinger of life, an event too coincidental for fiction.
The First of May this year was a day when snow turned into fields, when fields and snow shared equal honors, half white, half hay. As glaciers carve fields initially from hills, so fields are carved by sun each summer from glaciers. Snow thousands of years ago makes fields what they are, and then each year repeats the miracle, like a maintenance contract.
Broken with the fissures of cold winter, the crevasses of expectation, the earth is ready for the cracks opened up in the snow by the spring sun: the fissures of winter become the melt lines of spring, little arroyos in the snow.
The long hibernation of the bulbs produces brighter, hardier flowers, ready for the high mountain air. Birth after the ordeal of pregnancy, like peeling our gloves off in spring at the end of the ski season, is a flower stalk growing out of the hard soil. Our fingers warm like children in the sun, and we emerge as meadows do at last from volcanos, as eager as babies to face the lighter world.
May 4th, October 1st, and October 7th, 1993
Rue de Varenne
April 8th, 2005