Tag Archives: springtime

Exceeding Expectations–Three Score Years and Eleven

Exceeding Expectations: Three Score Years and Eleven    —by Jinny Batterson

My birthday happens this month.  As I age, the years tend to go by more and more quickly. Overall, it’s been a marvelous ride so far. 

Having a spring birthday is a quirk of my arrival on earth for which I’m very grateful—spring is generally such a hopeful time of year.  Most of my birthdays have long since slipped out of memory, though a few have associations that persist: 

—my 5th birthday, the first after the birth of my younger sister, when my mother staged outdoor scavenger games in our small yard. The weather was wonderfully warm and sunny; several friends came to enjoy prizes and homemade birthday cake. For one glorious day, I didn’t have to share the limelight with the cute, dimpled new baby.

—my 11th birthday, the final year I spent in the cramped first house our family lived in, before moving to a much larger house that summer.

—my 21st birthday, when I was nearly finished college and got engaged over my birthday weekend to my future husband.

—my 30th birthday, when I was pregnant with our younger child, and we staged an “over the hill party” with friends and colleagues.

—my 50th birthday, when our children were both grown and living elsewhere and I treated myself to a decadent chocolate cake.

At the time I was born, between 1940 and 1950, life expectancy for white women was between 67 and 72 years, increasing each decade. The small liberal arts school I was attending when my twentieth birthday arrived had a college springtime tradition: attaching short poems to a weeping cherry tree in front of an ivy-festooned brick classroom building. Often a handwritten copy of A.E. Housman’s “Loveliest of Trees” was among the offerings:

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

Back then three score years and ten seemed impossibly old—older even than my parents, aunts, and uncles in our long-generation family.

In the part of North Carolina where I now live, early spring days in 2018 have seen more than one frosting of actual snow, so warmer days and cherry trees hung with blooms are most welcome.  In our woodlands, white-blossomed cherries share center stage with white and pink dogwoods plus redbud trees whose smallish flowers are more pink than red. Along major roads and interstates this year, an extensive array of big, blowsy lavender wisteria clusters has draped adjacent trees. 

And I’ve had the chance to watch the “woodland ride” now for threescore years and eleven—a wonderful bonus. Happy springtime, y’all, wherever you spend it!       

Voyeur

Voyeur   —by Jinny Batterson

February—not just endless, but endlessly fickle.
One day teasing with early warmth.
Later freezing with near-zero chill.
As a departing insult, dumping three storms’ worth
Of ice, sleet, snow, freezing rain onto roads,
Trees, and power lines grown brittle with the cold.
Finally exiting, unlamented.

March blows somewhat warmer, yo-yoing toward spring.
Along parkways, Bradford pears pop open their pearly baubles.
Magnolias simper in front yards, flashing creamy white flesh.
Everywhere, daffodils lift their jaundiced cups to Saint Paddie.
On medians, apricots, plums, early cherries flounce their inverted tutus.

Abandoning these floozies’ displays, I stalk quieter innocence.
One morning, I spy four deer browsing in a nearby woods.
Nuzzling beneath fallen leaves, intent on tender twigs and shoots,
They pay me no mind.  After a while, they wander off.

Adolescent pines, some bruised and bent, line the wood’s edges.
Hollies stand stolid here and there, berries mostly gone.
In the understory, tucked back among oaks, maples, poplars,
Beeches cling to leaves bleached pale, worn thin by winter’s abrasions.

If I am quiet as the deer, if I am vigilant, always watching, watching,
I may get a glimpse, before later greenery masks their deshabille,
Of the young beeches, blushing, shedding their paper skirts.

Persephone Rising

Persephone Rising     by Jinny Batterson

(In memory of a lifelong friend, Beth, who died in 2013, just short of Easter.)

Our Christian traditions shortchange daughters.
We have God the Father, Mary the Mother, Jesus the Son, but…
If Jesus had any sisters, we never hear about them.
To find a daughter, we need to turn to Greek myth.

Long before Christ walked the shores of Galilee,
There was another lake, another springtime,
A mother and a daughter.

Demeter cherished Persephone
And nurtured her toward womanhood
With all the tenderness mothering knew.
Yet there came a time, there always does,
To let her daughter go–to gather her own blossoms,
To catch the glint of sun on water, to know the revolving
Of life’s cycles.

Life cycles through dark as well as light.
Persephone was abducted to the underworld
By a jealous suitor, who kept her there for long months.

Demeter mourned.
Earth grew dry, cold, harsh, until
Just a few grains remained. People were hungry.
Nothing grew. It seemed nothing could grow, ever again.

Not so.

Life cycles through light as well as dark.
Persephone was restored to her mother.
Earth flowered, pastures greened, fillies frolicked in the meadows.

Yet there was a catch. There nearly always is:
Persephone ate a seed in the underworld,
A seed that could only sprout with her care.
So each year she returned underground for several months,
Dying to help restore life.

Persephone’s death is not a once-for-all-time,
Redeem-the-sins-of-the-whole-world,
Slam-bam-thank-you-ma’am kind of death.
She dies, and lives, over and over,
Honoring her own cycles and earth’s.

Mourning with Demeter, I take heart, too,
That the longer cycles will hold.
Just as we need sons to recall unique heroism,
We need daughters to remind us of life’s turnings.

So in springtime, Easter does not fully come to me
Until I can sense, alongside the risen Christ,
Like the faintest of spring mists,
Persephone rising.