It’s Not Everyday

By the time I made it out the door for my afternoon walk, the spring-is-here day had changed its mind. The temperature had dropped, and the sky overhead was an ominous dark gray, the kind that lets you know rain is on the way.

But I was not deterred, and instead slipped back inside for my rain hat before heading across town to the woods.

A few parked cars were at the entrance when I arrived, no doubt belonging to the soaking wet folks jogging hurriedly towards them. How odd to be coming when they were so set on going.

I wondered about my decision as I hiked up the pock-marked trail, rain tumbling down on all sides of me. I wondered until I saw movement off to my left and noticed a red-tailed hawk watching me closely.

It’s magic time in the woods when it rains…

A water-logged robin sang along with the chorus of peepers in the marsh. An osprey swooped down across the pond, silently catching supper in its talons. Raindrops glistened like jewels from branches as the sun asserted itself once again. And all around there were reminders that there is so much more to every day than our everyday.

Spring Song

They’re playing our song.
The one that makes me think of you —
the afternoons we steal away
from work, from worry;
the way we walk barefoot
across fresh tendrils of grass;
your soft caress on my skin
as I breathe you in,

• • •

©2013, Jen Payne

What Purgation Blooms?

Lovely and mysterious Hellebore, here blooms in Central Park at the beginning of March. She is known by many names: Christmas Rose, Lenten Rose, Snow Rose, Black Nisewort.

Though strikingly beautiful set against the gray of winter, do not be fooled. Hellebore is one of the four classic poisons — cousin to nightshade, hemlock and aconite. It was, for example, the charms of Hellebore that are said to have brought Alexander the Great to his knees.

But she is toxin and healer both. Various hellebores have been used for centuries as treatment for insanity, paralysis, gout, cardiac and respiratory issues, as a diuretic and purgative. In Greek mythology, it is said that the great healer Melampus used the wiles of Hellebore to cure the raging daughters of King Proetus.

As elixir, she eases the mind. John Gerarde’s Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes explains that “a purgation of hellebore is good for mad and furious men, for melancholy, dull and heavie persons, and briefly for all those that are troubled with black choler, and molested with melancholy.”

As magician, she transforms. “Scatter powdered hellebore before you as you move and you shall be invisible,” write Scott Cunningham in his Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. “Hellebore was also used in exorcism rituals, and was at one time used in inducing astral projections.”

As inspiration, Horace, the great Roman poet, in his treatise The Art of Poetry, gives nod to affecting quality of Hellebore, suggesting she “was supposed to render the mind alert and inventive.”* (Though I wonder…is this not further proof of her duplicity? That she might both cure madness and stimulate creativity?)

Lovely and mysterious Hellebore. Has she cast her spell on you yet this spring?

• • •

Photo ©2012, Jen Payne, Hellebores in Central Park, New York City.

* O.N. Hardison and Leon Golden’ Horace for Students of Literature—The “Ars Poetica” and Its Tradition

Spring Fever

“My religion is well known to those few who know me, I believe in bodies, arms entangling and untangling. I believe, and I know it to be so, that there are so many curves and hollows in a single body that none of us can come to know them all within a single lifetime. I believe in one to one and one on one, no wine or hand-me-down bible can improve on that.

I believe in spring, but only if I’m rolled up in a pillow or holding some well-loved face in my hands or my imagination is any world green enough for me….”

The Spectator, Rod McKuen

• • •

Image: Lovers in the Lilacs – Marc Chagall, 1930

Welcome Spring!

Botticelli's Flora


Flora, thou beautiful lady of flowers,
hear my prayer and fill me with your grace.
Through you, the seeds of love grow and blossom,
like the colorful blooms that appear
where you walk.
I honor thee, gracious nurturer,
bringer of passion.
Inspire me with your life-giving radiance.
Give my love deep roots that it may endure
through all the seasons of passion,
ever to burst forth anew like the fresh shoots
rising with the quickening sap of spring;
teach me to appreciate beauty
wherever I may see it:
and to embody your gentle grace in
my love and life.

• • •

From The Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology:

Flora, “flourishing one,” was the Roman goddess of flowers, gardens, and spring. She is the embodiment of all nature; her name has come to represent all plant life. She is especially a goddess of Powers, including the flower of youth. Her festival of unrestrained pleasure, the Floralia, was celebrated at the end of April and beginning of May, this festival was probably the origin of the maypole dance and the gathering of bouquets of flowers, symbolizing the bringing of spring and new life into the world. She gives charm to youth, aroma to wine, sweetness to honey, and fragrance to blossoms. Flora teaches us to honor growing things, both inside and outside us. She is a reminder to pay attention to pleasure, to the beauty of spring, and to new life, wherever it is found.

• • •

Image: Flora, Sandro Botticelli

A Prayer to Flora, source unknown.