Susan Carol Hauser

Archive for March, 2014|Monthly archive page

Peeping the Bog: March 28, 2014

In Bog-watching on March 28, 2014 at 7:37 pm

When I am in St. Paul, almost every weekend now, I get a muffin and hot tea at the Mississippi Market Food Co-op and drive down to the Randolph Street park under the High Bridge over the Mississippi River. This morning the sun was doing its thing on the water, dazzling the human eye, and I thought about the water at home, still in stasis, still unable to move, still potential water rather than water in fact. On my bay the damp circles, the yellow of old silk, I know are obscured again by deep temperatures and fresh snow. But this sun here, in St. Paul, this sun is climbing higher each day, like a kid climbing higher in a maple tree, not in a hurry, savoring each step up, resistance melting, the way snow and even ice yields to the sun, here and there.




Peeping the Bog: March 23, 2014

In Bog-watching on March 23, 2014 at 5:57 pm

I was gone for three days, 200 miles south, less than three degrees on the latitude. I witnessed there evidence of spring’s crawl northward: the water of the Mississippi River free of ice, persistent in its pursuit of sea level; flocks of Canada geese clattering across the sky; memory of snow erased by incipient green in yards and boulevards; the sun spilling warmth and pleasure onto our upturned, happy faces. Had joy not been possible with ice on the streets and temperatures that freeze skin as easily as water?

At home, while I was away, there was snow and today the temperature is 10 above, 20 degrees warmer than the middle of last night, not an unusual separation. When I went to bed, the stars were as clear as dimes tossed out into bright sunlight and this morning the sunlight itself glitters (how else can I say it?) on the wet, new snow. The watercourse in the bog has gone undercover and the rim of the bay is betrayed only by the rim of canary grass and cattails that denote the margin.

As I write, a bald eagle interrupts the sky, dropping down to con the bog. I am witness to a confusion of light: it drops down from the sun, rises up from the snow, travels in glancing blows with the eagle across the field of my vision. I suppose the eagle is looking for mice or something else foolish enough to expose itself on the snow field. I turn my head to follow it, lift out of my chair and lean toward the window to keep it longer in sight, but it is gone as suddenly as it appeared, as though crystallized out of the bright blue sky and then dissipated back into air, the way spring seems to come and go and yet is there.



Peeping the Bog: March 19, 2014

In Bog-watching on March 20, 2014 at 12:55 am

It is unreasonable to wish for snow to melt, the bay to open, the bright little birds to return now, now, now. The winter cannot be said to be long; it is only mid-March. The sap, as always at this time of year, makes tentative runs up the maple trees. If I went out and drilled and put in taps, on warm days, temps above 40, the sap would take that easy road and would spill out, filling the pail that I hung there—ping, pinging until the bottom of the pail was covered, then one drop after another entering silently the gathering sweet. But that would be maybe one day out of two, or even one day a week, if the temperature did its usual March yo-yo, up and down, down and up, responding not to desire or hope, not to the virtual warmth of a bright sun, or a blue sky, or the chickadee’s elongated plaintive spring song, so different from its winter dee dee dee, but responding only to the actual heat of the actual sun and to the actual warming deep down in the earth, brought on by the change in the tilt of the earth in relation to the sun.

Out on the bay, the  watercourse migrates forward and outward, its clear, thin, brown line spreading like a delta, like a hand opening palm up. Its northerly trajectory is clear, not yet obscured by the remnants of last year’s grasses and reeds that are also visible now as the snow continues its laconic conversion to water, settling out of sight beneath the bog mat. The snow on land also yields to the double warmth of ground and sun: dark circles spread out around the bases of the big trees, and a long, brown stretch of grass limns the top line of the hill.

New bird songs today. The blue jay is back, and the flicker, their sharp tongues calling me out. The setting sun splashes a river of actual hard light onto the bog. Ping, it says to me. Ping, ping, then it softens as the sun drops away and everything—the  watercourse, the grasses, the light, the birds, everything is so still. I step outside to make sure that is true – is it all really so still. I hold my breath a moment, close my eyes. Yes: it is quiet, though I believe I can hear a gathering sweet.Image

Peeping the Bog: March 16, 2014

In Bog-watching on March 16, 2014 at 10:56 pm

The frozen bay is well-pocked now with gray splotches of rotting snow where the warmth of the earth has made its way up to meet the incipient warmth of the sun. The splotches freeze and thaw and widen again and again, gradually freeing water from its winter pose. Dark heaps of weeds punctuate two of the splotches, algae brought to the surface by muskrats. They would have noticed, yesterday afternoon, the sun’s rays angling through the ice, loosening it to slush, would have easily broken through the crystalline portal into the light, dragging with them the last of the winter pantry to sort through on the sun-splashed, capacious table of the lake. Image

Peeping the Bog: March 15, 2014

In Bog-watching on March 15, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Temps have dropped again: zero this morning. The bog holds its breath, the brown line of the watercourse shrunken down into the snow, the way we pull our heads down into our collars, seeking the warmth of our hearts.Image

Peeping the Bog: March 12, 2014

In Bog-watching on March 12, 2014 at 7:52 pm

March 12, 2014

The metaphor has collapsed: yesterday’s eye of water in the snow-bound swamp blinked at the heat of the sun and the water course rose, its sketchy brown line visible now halfway from The Island to the lake, halfway to summer, halfway to open water, halfway to long, wide-open light.



Peeping the Bog: March 11, 2014

In Bog-watching on March 11, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Peeping the Bog, March 11, 2014
The watercourse that cuts south to north across the bog, from the spring at the edge of the pressure ridge we call The Island to the lake’s shallow bay, that watercourse, obscured all winter by the depth of heavy snow, that watercourse opened an eye two days ago, a small pond maybe six-feet long and two-feet wide. I might not have noticed its blue iris but for the crows, nine of them, fussing around its rim, pecking at the water, drinking it, I suppose, perhaps enjoying the cold shock to their tiny throats.

Peeping the Bog

In Bog-watching on March 11, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Today I begin a series of short writings, mostly poems or prose poems, observing the passage of one bog from winter into summer. The bog is visible from my home which is north of a continental divide, so the water flows north on its way to Hudson Bay and then the Atlantic Ocean. I am peeping out my window, not in, but it is, nevertheless, a form of spying, as I do not participate in the activity of the bog. I am an observer only. My plan is to write an entry several times a week, more or less. Happy for feedback and for other’s stories on how we progress from winter to summer, especially from this past relentless winter into a summer whose qualities are not yet known.