A little while ago I saw a blue jay perched on a branch of a birch tree. There was soft sunlight turning the new leaves to shining green but the jay was, in the shadow of the trunk, soft blue gray. It was a painting in the making. In fact, all around me the last few days have brought incipient paintings, the green gold of the flowers on the sugar maples, small keys forming a halo around each branch, the muted red madder of the red maple flowers, soft cream and pink of the hawthorn bushes, silver gleam of the tiny oak leaves, just barely visible. There is green of every describable colour and some shades so pale, so transient, that they are barely there. A camera would not capture them, but paint might.
Down in my basement drawers is a box of oil paints, an easel, stretched canvas. I haven't touched them for a long time, occupied and preoccupied as I am with my volunteer work, my computer (haven't been posting lately, but I am inspired to do better), my bulbs, the yard and garden, changing the winter clothing for summer weight, spring cleaning urges. ( JG had a spring cleaning urge yesterday and sorted all his clothes, getting rid of a huge number of garments he had not worn for years. A shirt and trousers boasted Eaton’s labels; Canadian readers will know this store has been closed for well over a decade.) But I could paint today. If the tubes of colour were still good. If I weren't writing about it instead of doing it. If the windows were all clean. If there were not raspberry canes laughing at me in the iris bed. No, not today. But sometime soon.
I think, from time to time, how the immediate tasks and preoccupations seem to take over from the long held, the dearly held, things we want to do. The immediate necessity pushes in, shoving other things further back. At one time I thought that when my children were grown, when I stopped working for a salary, I would have so, so much time. Free, unencumbered hours to spend as I wish. And I do have time. I don't manage it well. I do not fill the unrelenting hour with even thirty minutes' worth of distance walked. I read, I watch the birds, I putter at household tasks that could be accomplished in half the time it takes me, stopping to check out a newly arrived grosbeak at the feeder or what Time has to say about the Wedding. It feels luxurious to do things this way. But it's sure not efficient.
Those of us who have raised children and managed a household and worked outside the home at the same time did not have the luxury, while doing so, of being 'in the minute', of pausing to admire a blue jay on a branch, of reading the magazine as soon as it arrived in the mail. Children need, as a matter of immediate necessity, the meal should be somewhere close to being on time, the man is out of clean socks (as are the children, for that matter), there are so many urgent tasks, deadlines, voices calling. Now that there is no stress in my life that I do not create for myself, I treasure the luxury of putting off, I give myself permission to loiter and look and dream.
I might enjoy the birds more, though, if I could see clearly through the kitchen window.
dutchman's breeches in the woods
Crunch. One of the mature maples the wind pushed over.
Last three photographs courtesy of the YD.