And What Is So Rare

06 lowellLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – “And what is so rare as a day in June?” I ask on this last day of the month. That’s the leading line of a poem by James Russell Lowell (1819-1891), here’s the full verse:

And what is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days; Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune, And over it softly her warm ear lays; Whether we look, or whether we listen, We hear life murmur, or see it glisten.”

I had a friend who kept 366 journals. He built enough shelves all around the room to accommodate 366 notebooks labeled only with the month and day, not the year. February 29 didn’t have nearly as many pages as the other 365, he explained as he’d lift a notebook and tell you exactly what he was doing, or thinking, on a precise day, as far back as fifteen years! I admired his tenacity, but the revelation was how our feelings, and perceptions, change over time. even when the planets are aligned the same. Because we have new experiences? Because we get older, slower, wiser? I decided to go back to the first year of the Journey and revisit my “Junes,” checking for rarity.

  1. I started June in Salem, Oregon, one of the prettiest capital cities in the country. Everything blooming, rhodies wall to wall and ten feet tall, the glorious peony farm, wildflowers bursting like confetti on every hill. Wonderful people, Jim and Natalie and Rob; I toured, I feasted, I slept like a baby, content. North to family in Seattle; school visits, a birthday party, celebrations and fun. Then flying high; capital city Honolulu with granddaughter Kayla; hula dancing and luaus and shopping under the banyan tree; tour buses and coconuts; palaces and kings. Coming home on the last day of June, napping above the clouds.

Then, if ever, come perfect days

  1. June was wide enough for three capital cities, from Topeka to Lincoln to Des Moines. Good people; wide open prairies; skies blue, or black with thunderclouds, art and irony; solid and spacious; stories told, connections made. Wild grasses swaying in the wind; yellow daylilies groomed perfectly on the capitol lawn. Black squirrels and striped pigs and Loess hills and streets named simply A or B. Kansas isn’t flat. Nebraska is truly huge. Iowa grows the most corn.

Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune

  1. Settled in Arkansas, grandkid time. First up, Andrew from Seattle; wilting in the climate change. Too hot, too hot; tackle the vines before the sun gets high, no sleeping late. Coming in July, grandson Sam, also from the cool northwest. Coming in August, two sons from opposite sides of the country and Seattle granddaughter Kayla; plus Brenda and Michael, full house time. A long hot summer.

And over it softly her warm ear lays

  1. Got a new back porch. My cherry tomatoes began ripening up. Started packing for the drive to Atlanta; meeting Sam’s plane and driving around the southern states visiting his southern aunts, uncles, cousins; touring his favorite SEC football stadiums, working on his southern accent.

Whether we look, or whether we listen

  1. Little Rock. Twice. Airport pickup; airport depart. A visit to the Clinton Presidential Library. Seattle son here; Florida son here, Brenda too. How about a cruise on Lake DeGray?

We hear life murmur, or see it glisten.

06 DeGray Lake

Thanks Mr Lowell, for the reminder.