The moody month of May

May 3, 2022 @ 8:44 am | Filed under: ,

photo of a gray house with a bright red garage door, and blossoming trees under a gray sky

Good grief, it’s been two months since my last post. I did start several (in the seventeen-plus years I’ve been blogging here, I’ve amassed a truly ridiculous number of unpublished drafts. Over seven hundred of them. I mean.) but I kept butting into that wall I face when I want to capture some funny or beautiful moment—the larger context, the grimness of that larger context. The state of the world. I’m resisting the urge right now to write that distressing litany (war, plague, corruption, oppression, fires, dying oceans, dying soils, melting ice—the list we’re all carrying around all the time.

I’ll read a poem that shoots through me, or something amusing will happen during our lessons, or I’ll see a neighbor’s cat stalking a scrub jay, the jay perfectly aware of the crouching, intensely focused predator, cocking its head this way and that, hopping a little, flaunting its total confidence in its power of flight; and I’ll want to come here and record the thing so I don’t lose it. Even capturing in a notebook as I often do doesn’t insure against loss: I’ve filled so many, many notebooks. And they don’t have rapid search engines.

But the urge to begin with a disclaimer—exactly this kind of disclaimer—burns up all the energy I had for writing the post.

Can I just issue the disclaimer once and move on? Everything is terrible, but also a lot of things are beautiful and I want to remember them?

Well. Here I am, in May, a month I love. On the East Coast I loved it for the explosion of blossoming trees; but here in Portland that begins in April and is winding down by now. We’ve had cherry blossoms & tulip magnolias & flowering plum; now it’s dogwood time, and rhododendrons and azaleas. What I love most about Portland’s May is the light: especially in the evenings after rain, when the light lasts and lasts, and the clouds are shot through with it, backlit, illuminated, and it’s like there is light in the air, or the air is made of particles of light. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen, anywhere else.

pink roses blooming against a cloudy sky

Soon, unless it starts pouring, Huck and I will go out for a walk. Last night, Scott and I were returning home from a long walk and encountered a pair of mallards splashing in a large pool of water on Beech—a cross-street in our neighborhood badly in need of repairs. Blocks and blocks of puddles and potholes. Puddles large enough to attract waterfowl, it seems! Oh, the gorgeous sleek green head of the male duck.

And of course I can’t think of mallards without remembering one of the funniest moments of my whole parenting/homeschooling life: the time someone at the park yelled “Duck!”

…A bunch of kids were playing ball not far away. Suddenly a cry rang out: “DUCK!” Every person in the vicinity ducked out of the way of the large ball hurtling toward our group. Except my kids. All three of them (there were only three at the time) LOOKED UP AT THE SKY. I kid you not. “Where?” cried Jane. “Is it a mallard?”

How happy am I that I wrote that story down at the time? 2006, it was. Sixteen years later, still so funny.


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  1. lesley says:

    This was lovely to read this cloudy/sunny morning in Virginia, Lissa, where the blossom is-indeed-waning…except the buttercups, of course! And yes to finding the beautiful amongst the terrible, our work in modern life. xoxoxo