Brown and Green

Most of us are brown and green.  Like the bushes I saw tonight.  Parts are brown, crumbly, forgettable.  And parts are green, new, juicy, exciting.  Living things are also partly dead.

I’ve been trying to get my creative writing students to write descriptive detail.  So I noticed, on my walk tonight, that forsythia has petals more like leaves, which come in fours.  Forsythia is bright like neon.  Daffodils have six petals, and they stand up straight.  The lily pads in the pond down the street have yellow flowers with five petals.  The lily pad leaves are floppy and flat.  Maybe I should show them pictures of flowers and have them describe the differences.  All yellow flowers, but so different.

I was checking up on the spring progress in the neighborhood.  The early spring plants are so brave– forsythia, daffodils, hyacinth, and even the grass.  They just throw their cards on the table, not caring that there could be another freeze.  The ash trees and sycamores show nothing yet.  It is winter for them, still.

I visited the sculptures from New York City.  They saved two of the ladies from the top of Penn Station and installed them in Kansas City.  The ladies went from crowning the crossroads of the world to overseeing a boy scout insignia and fountain.  From glamour to comfort.  From drama to safety.  I just passed through Penn Station, tragically now ladyless, last month.

I took the train into Manhattan, and popped up the escalator for a minute, before I changed to the subway, just to get my first view of the city.  They’re renovating Madison Square Garden, so my first view, after walking through a gauntlet of homeless guys and feverish smokers, was mostly of scaffolding and big flapping covers over half-built structures.  I knew it was Manhattan.  It smelled like Manhattan.  That was enough.

I knew it was spring when I thought, seeing my ex would be like seeing my endodontist– the guy who did my root canals and gum surgery last year.  It’s not that I want to see him, or I’d enjoy it.  It would be unpleasant, since we shared a painful time.  But I don’t feel like it’s his fault anymore.  I’m partly brown, and partly green.

There were doves by the pond.  Lots of robins along Holmes.  Fat ones, with bulky orange guts.  I checked lots of trees to see who was budding.  I bent down to smell a hyacinth.  The second half of my walk goes along part of the Santa Fe trail.  There’s a sign with a little covered wagon on it.  I always find those signs a little depressing.  Kansas City is a small city because many people on that trail got here and said, “Hmm… that’s it?  Yep, let’s keep going.” This is it, unglamorous, only half flowered, and smelling tangy, clean, slick pretty in its blossoms.

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