It’s spring, and all the trees in my neighborhood are bursting with color. I’m also taking a lot more walks, listening to the birds, seeing nature rising up in splendor everywhere. Even the crows seem harbingers of something good, their squawks more chipper than usual.
Ever since college, I’ve been a big believer in the mix tape, even though no one listens to cassette tapes anymore. Making a mix tape was hardcore, much different than selecting a bunch of songs on iTunes now, lining them up in a queue. (And I hate iTunes—it is the opposite of intuitive. There has to be a better way.) Back in the day, I’d sit on the floor of my bedroom with the breeze blowing through the window, CD cases splayed around me. I’d listen to this song and that, trying to find the perfect one to get across a sentimental and melodic message for someone I cared about. I’d mix favorite songs up with little-heard but quality tracks, men’s voices with women’s, varying genres that complemented each other. It was an art form, time well-spent that came from the heart.
I make a mean musical mix.
But music isn’t the only thing blooming with the flowers these days. There is so much great art I’m finding to delve into this year, as I embrace new beginnings in my life. I’m reading whatever books I’m drawn to, watching less TV. So here are some picks, music and otherwise, to get you off your ass up and out and dive into the beautiful spring.
Mary Oliver is the perfect poet to read as nature blooms. I found this poem as I was cleaning up around my apartment yesterday, and it reminded me how much trees provide energetically, how they are such a calm, cool, stable presence that we often take for granted.
“When I am Among the Trees”
When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness,
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”
I’m listening to a few artists these days, and I recently sought out Hozier because he has such great masculine energy. (There’s a lot of feminine energy in my abode, with two daughters and a female cat. My son feels really outnumbered.) I’ve been listening to his album, Wasteland, Baby, which is so well-done, but I’m a little annoyed by the wasteland part. Thinking of the world as a wasteland is just depressing, as are some of the lyrics, like in the song “No Plan,” which is pretty much a modern day version of Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress.” The message is, “Hey baby. There’s no God and all life is darkness. But let’s love each other for now.”
But what happens when you die, dude? Then she’s all alone? I’ll take the bigger plan, thank you very much, instead of all your bleakness.
Besides, he drops the F-bomb a lot in this album, which is totally unnecessary, and means I can’t listen to it around my kids. I am a big fan of the F-bomb, mind you, in the right company. But I don’t like when it’s thrown into an otherwise nice song.
Also, what is this picture?
Is his stomach cut open or something? I can’t figure it out.
And yet, this particular song, “Almost (Sweet Music)” is wonderful! I promise it will make you dance. A must for your spring mix.
Okay, I know I said I wasn’t watching much TV, and I’m not, but we all know spring has rainy days. So when there’s a day all you want to do—or all you can do—is sit on your couch, you must watch Catastrophe on Amazon Prime. It’s the funniest show I’ve seen in a while. Maybe ever? I can’t get enough. My only complaint is that there aren’t more episodes.
I have a boatload of books piled on my desk right now, but most of them are not things other people will want to read. Autobiography of a Yogi? I love it, but it’s not for everyone. Carl Jung’s Man and His Symbols? Yeah! Or would you prefer a textbook called The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings? I know, mesmerizing. (It sort of is, to me.) So I’ll throw this one out for you, a collection of short stories by Kristin Roupenian, who made it big after she wrote a short story called “Cat Person” that got published in The New Yorker. I heard she signed, like, a million dollar book deal. This shit just doesn’t normally happen, especially for short stories, so the book is worth a read.
The stories are a mix of dark, funny, mysterious, quirky, honest and real. And they’re relatively short, so it’s perfect if you want to read and then take a nap. I wouldn’t be surprised if Roupenian ends up on the syllabus for a lot of college creative writing classes.
Omg, these are amazing and really, really dangerous. Whenever they’re at the supermarket, I end up buying more than one bag in case they stop stocking them. I might have a problem.
I also encourage you to check out the spring edition of a relatively new literary magazine called Cagibi, where I just had a story published.
Now, go forth, multiply, or something! Have a salad! Enjoy!
Top image: “Colors of Spring” by Johan Neven via Flickr.