March 22, 2015
Saint Paul, Minnesota
People say to me, you must miss the woods, but we have a lot of nature here in Saint Paul. They are right, I do miss the woods, and there is nature here in Saint Paul, but I want to say to them, not really–there is no relationship here to the woods. At night in Puposky I slept with the window cracked all year long and around two o’clock in the morning I often heard coyotes howl, and sometimes a wolf, and now and then the maniacal midnight chatter of foxes. In the spring, bobcats broke the night with their lightning wails, male and female mating under the stars, the hackles on my neck rising exactly commensurate with a blaze of adrenalin that sparked from my head to my heart.
My apartment building is smack downtown, Fourth and Sibley, across the street from a one-block square park. In summer, water flows through a constructed creek that crosses one side of the park. This morning I watched sparrows standing on a little bridge looking down as though waiting for the water to appear. It is only March, too early to turn on the spigot. I was walking my dogs, as were many others. The dogs have become friends and delight in seeing each other, sniffing away at both ends, back and forth, good morning my dear friend, they say and prance a little from the pleasure of it as we move along in our routine way. It is not a lot of nature, I think to myself, but it is some.
Yesterday I heard a robin singing, recognized its song, and this morning on our walk I spotted something green at the base of a birch tree next to the path: the first growth of this new year pushing through the leaf rubble. The leaves were startling, bright-bright green, as though electric, and to my dismay, I could not name them. If I were up north, they would be hepatica, the first spring flower to break out of the ground. Here, in a square of earth surrounded by sidewalks and buildings and near a fragment of a dormant stream, they are simply, merely, alarmingly wild.