Nothing Gold Can Stay

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 8:45am

Two days ago the shad at the edge of my back yard was in full glorious bloom, shadblow at its most fragile — and best — moment. My little camera may have finally given up the ghost, it sits on the table, its little lens stuck in the wrong position. "Will shut down automatically” its screen reads with an implication when I restart it all will be well.

It has happened before, multiple times, but always righted itself when I remembered it hours later. This, though, may be the end of it, like my mother's old television that cleared itself when slapped — something, in my defense, that was a remedy for months – until the day it went dark.  

And, yes, I did remove the batteries, even tried new ones. There is a never-touched solutions disk in a drawer... [Update: Said disk was of no help whatsoever.]

We are still in the time of year it is easier to tell what is what and where. The new maples are in layers of slightly different hues, the shad that have grown to trees are fading white, apples are in blossom. The last-to-leaf bayberry bushes in the Loon Lot, the hill beyond the pond behind my house, are intwined with the bright green of new multiflora readying itself for the annual show that momentarily assures forgiveness of its overreaching vines.

In the morning sun green and gold are vying for control of an odd little tree, a spindly bush grown tall at the edge of the pond. 

Robert Frost wrote:

Nature's first green is gold

Her hardest hue to hold.

It seems no more than a lovely commentary on the very world I am witnessing.

Her early leaf's a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

We're still okay, Robert and I are. Then comes the inevitable turn to the Fall of Man. 

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

Gold is precious and everlasting we learn from the earliest Sunday School stories, precious, everlasting and a cause of great difficulty. In a New England spring it is precious but fleeting, and easily forgotten as the lush green that seems to be fading almost as soon as we reach the solstice overtakes the landscape. It is more the gold of autumn, the last leaves that fall before winter that is frozen in our collective memory.

It needs the sun to shine, this new gold, and today we have more fog with the promise of badly needed rain which is showing on the radar more as maundering dragons than the great green blob of a real soaker. The earth is dry, there have been clouds of dust rising from the Mansion Road for many weeks, now, still, the numbers from the Water Company are staggering, 2.9 inches less rain fell this April than last.

The lilacs are blooming, the flowers I love more than any other. When tending my yard years ago I did some silly things, like placing autumn olives at the edge of the yard, but transplanting lilacs, shoots from the old, old tree in the corner was a success I will never regret. They grow amidst the blackberry vines below the kitchen window and down the lane behind the house, the latter on the side away from the badly overgrown wall that is out of sight when I stand in the right place.

They are not completely open yet, great fragrant blossoms that are a reminder there really is little of the spring, gold or not, that can stay.

It is a soft, lovely day. When I go out with the dog we surprise a dove on the walk, a muted gray bird with no interest in an excited golden retriever who may never grasp the concept of flight. After a few haltering steps she loses interest and trots off to find a land bound stick.

It is almost Memorial Day, come too soon, this holiday that somewhere morphed from a day of first dips in the ocean and picnics only after school exercises, which no one thought of not attending, when we, school children, were sent out, by our teachers or our parents or both, with bunches of paper poppies to sell.

There will be wreaths on the monuments at Bridgegate Square and in Legion Park, new little flags will honor veterans' graves in the cemeteries, and somewhere we will be reminded that it is a three day weekend, but one built around a holiday of remembrance.