Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Day after April Fool's Day

Carnivorous Flower
Originally uploaded by suzipaw.
I'm in the middle of something extraordinary. Sitting on my fine new deck on a gorgeous day, cats draping themselves about like a harem, eating fruit salad and listening to the NPR news report of the Pope's passing, I find myself in the flight path of a migrating flock of butterflies. I've been noticing lots of the little flutterers in the past few days, so wasn't surprised to see them winging by when I parked myself outside. But as I gazed up the hill, I noticed them seeming to come right at me, then veering skyward to clear my rooftop. And they're not stopping. For almost an hour now they've coming in two's and five's, eschewing exploration of my fine freesias and other likely landings. I've never noticed this happening before, and now I have all sorts of questions: Is this normal and I've just never been a part of it? How long will it last? Is this a good sign or a bad one? What's the proper term for "flock of butterflies"? What variety are they? (I'm thinking California Sisters, but since they're not pausing, I'm not sure.)

Another gratifying discovery: while watching the aerial butterfly procession, I spied a handsome orange-yellow oriole. I didn't see any orioles last year--Murray severely pruned the mulberry last winter where a pair had built a nest two years ago, and I think they were unhappy with us.

Rex and neighboring canines are all a-bark--someone's flying a shark-shaped kite, and their inability to bite it is upsetting them.

My first iris has unfolded her petals this morning, stunning with my Queen of the Night tulips sharing the same pot.

Should I go to the beach with Rex? Or do my taxes? Assemble the wedding invitations? Maybe taxes in the wake of butterflies wouldn't be so bad.


Rebecca reminds me that April is National Poetry Month. I was going to do this anyway, but it's more appropriate this month:

One of the items my grandma gave me when she moved was my great grandfather's autograph book, a gift from his teacher. The orange velvet cover is worn and the word "Autographs" on the front is nothing more than glue. The pages feel fragile, and are adorned with vivid paper "stickers," mostly floral. The words grow thicker and thinner with pen's visit to the inkwell. I wish I could scan some of the entries, the penmanship is lovely. There is little original prose. Great grandpa Elwin was 14 in 1891.

The first entry is:

Aug. 3, 1891

Dear Elwin,
"This life is not all sunshine
Nor is it yet all showers
But storms and calm alternate,
As thorns among the flowers.
And while we seek the roses,
The thorns full oft- we scan
Still let us though they wound us,
Be happy as we can."
Your Mother,
Louisa Axtell

Others follow:

For fear the flesh should think
To lord it o'er the deathless soul
Let abstinence in food and drink
The guilty pride of flesh control
Ellington, Wis Grandpa
March 31, 1891 H. P. Diener

I dip my pen into the ink
And grasp your album tight
But to save my life I cannot think
Of a single thing to write
From your great Cousin
W. J. Axtell

New London, Wis.
Sept. 11-1892
May education be your friend
And knowledge your foundation,
Remember me when far away,
Although we are relation.

Dear Cousin.
When the golden sun is setting
And your mind from care is free
When of others you are thinking
will you sometimes think of me.
Emma Schmidt
Appleton. June 18-1901

Nov 10 1898
you may spend whole
years in roving
Be lavish as an Earl
But you will find me out* as
As the average dutch Girl
(Whoa Emma)

*can't quite make out this word

Nov. 13 1898
Friend Elwin:
Elwin is your name
Single is your station
Happy is the little woman
That makes the alternation.
Your friend
Bessie Murphy
Hortonville Wis.

July 7 1891
In filling memorie's woodbox. Throw in a stick for me.
Your Cousin
Mabel Trayser
[In each corner, Mabel had penned: For- Get- Me- Not.]

Dear Elwin,
Swear not at all.
Your aunt
Hellen Saxe,
May 10th, 1891

Now get out there and read more poetry! And don't forget to set your clocks forward tonight.


At 7:36 PM, April 02, 2005, Blogger Rebecca said...

How wonderful to have this kind of family history. All of Elwin's (and your) relatives speaking from those faded pages...makes me think of your essay about what is passed on, and remembered, and by whom.

At 6:10 PM, April 03, 2005, Blogger Nancy said...

That was great! Here's one from my fifth grade yearbook: Never kiss by the garden gate. Love is blind, but the neighbors ain't.

At 8:25 AM, April 18, 2005, Anonymous cousin Michelle said...

What a treat! Was so excited for that wonderful family memoribilia!


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