It's National Poetry Month!

Statue on the Moselle
Metz 2009
Alas, I'm no poet, and have nothing of my own to offer, so I must steal from someone else.  It is spring, at least according to the calendar -- I jinxed myself with that last post and the creeping cold, driving rain, and wild winds have returned -- and thoughts turn to what else other than love?  Who could be better than a Latin lover? And which Latin lover could be better than Pablo Neruda during the Matilde era?

Neruda's third and final wife, Matilde Urrutia, was his muse for his 100 Sonnets, and also the love poems in Captain's Verses, and Bacarole. When I read his sonnets for her, I can almost imagine that I am a woman who inspires and fosters greatness in the man she loves, that I am someone in whom someone else sees something so special that he is motivated just by her essence. In real life, though, I'm not muse material.  I'm far too much of a cynic to inspire anyone to anything even resembling greatness!

Sonnet XVII from 100 Love Sonnets

 I do not love you as if you were a salt rose, or topaz
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
So I love you because I know no other way than this:

where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

My comprehension of the Spanish language is horrible, but if you read his original writing out loud,  the words flow more lyrically than the English translation...

No te amo como si fueras rosa de sal, topacio
o flecha de claveles que propagan eñ fuego:
te amo como se aman ciertas cosas oscuras,
secretamente, entre la sombra y el alma.

Te amo como la planta que no florece y lleva
dentro de sí, escondida, la luz de aquellas flores,
y gracias a tu amor vive oscuro en mi cuerpo
el apretado aroma que ascendió de la tierra.

Te amo sin saber cómo, ni cuándo, ni de dónde,
te amo directamente sin problemas ni orgullo:
así te amo porque no sé amar de otra manera,

Sino así de este modo en que no soy ni eres,
tan cerca que tu mano sobre mi pecho es mía,
tan cerca que se cierran tus ojos con mi sueño.


Spring May Have Sprung!

I am cautiously happy to say that the weather seems to be turning warm and sunny and I can finally work in my garden.  Cautious because we've had several false starts this year.  Below is my "before" photo. Yes, it looks like this every spring -- my compost pile is 6 x 10 x 4 feet.  Every year.  It will be bigger this year, because I haven't been as good about tending the garden in the last two years with all the country hopping and haven't grown vegetables in 4 years.
One afternoon in mid-March, I cleared about 500 square feet of weeds for vegetables with the help of a rake, a mattock and a quart of lemonade my housemate made from the meyer lemons in the front garden.  I also started seeds for tomatoes, basil and cucumbers.  That night, the cold and rain returned with a vengeance and continued for the rest of the month, with a day or so let-up here and there. In the meantime, the cherry and paste tomato seeds sprouted unwillingly, angry that I'd forced them out into the cold.  The Siberian tomatoes, which are supposed to do well in cooler climes never bothered to sprout at all! The cucumbers were decimated by snails the minute they sprouted. And apparently, the basil pot had coriander seeds in it!
See the seedlings above? This photo was taken 13 days ago. They still look like this, except there are fewer of them, because they hate me for drenching them in torrential rain and freezing them in polar winds. Luckily, I bought seedlings ready to plant from the nursery as insurance and plunked them into the ground, along with various bean, chile and corn seeds, on the first of April, one of the nice days.  Below is Piglet standing next to the little chicken wire fence we put up to keep her and other miscellaneous critters from trampling and digging. In the foreground are beets and garlic my housemate planted last fall, and swiss chard that has volunteered itself for the last 15 years. I only bought swiss chard seeds once, but it's reseeded itself every year since then.
We have had four straight days of clear, warm weather and among the new weeds that sprouted during the last rain onslaught, I saw little bean sprouts!  I am so glad that bean seeds are fairly hardy. These pole beans are an Italian variety that have a red pod when they go to seed.  The bush beans have sprouted, but don't look quite as vigorous.  No sign of the corn or chile, I think they might require another insurance run to the nursery for seedlings.
It feels good to be grubbing around the garden again. I seem to feel more "connected" with the food I eat when I've had a hand in being responsible for at least part of it. And I have to say although I enjoy the sorbet I made from strawberries I got from the farmer's market (red), I prefer the one I made from my oranges and meyer lemons (yellow).
Speaking of having a hand in growing food, my housemate is talking about chickens for fresh eggs. He got the idea because the neighbors have hens. I think that's too much like work! Has anyone here raised chickens?


Waiting for Spring to Arrive in Full Force

Usually by now, the rainy season is over and the temperatures have begun to rise, but this year, the skies have remained grey and the rain (here, and snow in the mountains) continues to fall.  I can't complain too much, since California is in perpetual drought.  A certain resident of Germany also reminded me that it never gets truly cold where I am, although I challenge him to come to San Francisco on a foggy night.  The air temperature is not as cold as Germany in winter, but the moisture in the air drives the chill into your body

All this said, we have had a few beautiful days so far, and being unemployed, I was able to be outside to take a few photos, when I haven't been toiling in the vegetable garden, in the house with spring cleaning, or at my father's reupholstering his sofa.  Since I've been completely uninspired with regard to blogging, I thought I'd share a few of these photos.

Ranunculus in a border in front of a house along Palm Avenue. 
This street has a lot of arts & crafts style homes, mostly California bungalows and Mission Revival.

A good example of one of the Bungalows on Palm Avenue.
It seems like any remodeling done has stayed pretty true to form.
Craftsman Perspective has information on the Arts & Crafts Movement
About.Com has some examples of common Arts & Crafts styles

Landscaping at the local public golf course. 

Left, a pond facing a fairway. 

Right, a nandina plant outside the restaurant.

I hope to have photos of my gardens and my father's sofa project up soon.  Maybe I will feel inspired to write something in connection with those photos...