Monday, April 6, 2009

NPM 5: "Hazard Yourself to Spring," by Chris Heeter

I'm generally more attracted to urban alleys than to hiking trails, and I'm not much for nature poems, usually; but how can you not succumb when someone who looks like the camp counselor you had a crush on the summer you were twelve, now all grown up, reads you hers?

I never went to camp, actually, but I succumbed anyway when I heard local poet Chris Heeter read from her book Wild Thoughts: Just Outside the Window (Yileen Press, 2008). (At the same reading I wrote about below.) It's a collection of poems about nature that Heeter has been writing and e-mailing out every Wednesday, since 2003. You can sign up to receive her weekly wild thoughts here. (She also leads dogsledding, canoeing, hiking and other wilderness trips through her business, The Wild Institute.)

In the Q&A afterward, someone asked for advice for city-dwellers who barely see nature, who get all excited about one robin in the spring.
Chris answered, "Love that one robin!"

"Hazard Yourself to Spring"

The world outside is not so subtle now.
Transformation abounds
as each day snow visibly recedes
and sun lingers on into early evening
when just weeks ago there was darkness.

If ever there was a time of year
for willing yourself into the dance
it is now.

Now, as earth drinks in the melting snow
and each day brings new revelations
of what has been waiting beneath the ice.
Will you hazard yourself?
Will you let this changing season have its way with you?

Bring to light that in you
which has been frozen,
waiting, yearning to thaw.

--Chris Heeter

I went on with my walk after the reading last Sunday with this line repeating in my mind:
"If ever there was a time of year
for willing yourself into the dance
it is now."

Maybe this poem is too late in this season for people who live where daffodils already bloom. But here it's been a long, cold winter, and as of this morning, April 6, the temperature is just below freezing, small glaciers linger in dark cold corners, and Canada geese can still walk on frozen water.
Sometimes it really does take an act of will to shake off the lethargy of winter, to get the bike out of the basement and pump up the tires, and to go outside without long johns. Say yes to the dance--it will help keep you warm.


momo said...

We stood under a tree near our house trying to spot the robin we could hear so clearly. Finally we spied it. There are so many signs of spring, still barely visible, that I look for eagerly every time I leave the house. I'm waiting for the forsythia bush to bloom across the street.

fresca said...

Nice. I love forsythia too. The signs of spring, the return of growth, are so exciting when we live through six long months of fallow time. I feel myself putting out a few hopeful leaves too...