This morning I went to the arboretum; yesterday was a day of clumsy hawks and brief smears of comets and today I wanted to see whether blooms tight a day or so ago would be open. This is what I saw and how I came to see it.
I wore a long-sleeve shirt and shorts. The breeze chilled my hands and legs and face until I could only see, my breath was quiet and my skin numb, my nose muffled until only the sharpest ginger could pinch it awake. First of all, I saw the squirrel sitting in the bird feeder and the young blue jays swooping to the corners, darting in to snatch food, and swooping out again. The squirrel stretched along one side so that the jays could have the open length of the feeder, the one built like a framed doll barn, to pop in and out. They watched me take a few pictures, black eyes round in grey feathers, leaping away as I lowered or raised the camera.
I followed a trail over a small pond and along the upper banks of Cypress Creek, pressing my camera once to my throat as if I was going to swear to it or speak through it. Continuing around the edge of the arboretum I came to the ginger bushes, warm as the holidays in the back of my throat and hot against my chill sense of smell. Moving inward, I found the beauty berries, small clumps of purple as if someone had carved giant raspberries out of purple crayons and stuck them on bare limbs. I want to pluck the branches and scrawl purple on the benches until the rain washes it into the small ponds and the water lies lilac under the winter sky.
Thinking purple thoughts, I go back to the formal gardens and the sprays of purple and white spotted toad lilies. We had one of these as a house plant when first we moved into the house and these profusion a are like seeing the intervening years gathered in a heap, with all the good memories stretching to the sun.
Somehow, the cold has brought me not only further into my skin but also into the desire I had as a child to see all the tiny flowers, to find the way the weeds celebrated beside ditches or in the otherwise well-kept grass. There is no wild purple bindweed here. Instead, I find things I can't name: flowers blooming just above the ground or soft, dry clusters on tall, pale stalks just inside the butterfly meadow.
I remember gathering leaves for a seventh grade science project with Holly and want to take some of these back to Mrs. Kyle...see what I am still finding?
On the cobblestones in the formal garden I find a dead bee. Not far away the wind chimes are ringing with the wind and vibrating with cars passing on Aldine Westfield along the front of the arboretum. The chords should be a slow march for the bee, like the rest of them, drifting their heaviness from flower to flower, harvesting even those flowers that would barely fit a bumble bee. I imagine that it is the rose mallow ringing for the bees, those great hanging crinolines and bowers so pale pink I think they are white at first. Such heavy petals should ring in wind.
It is only time to leave when the sun begins to wake up my skin and I realize I've taken the last picture of the moon in the cold morning frame of pine branches.