Monday, October 21, 2013

Spring Clean for the May Queen

"April showers have wrought May bouquets. Purple-blossomed beach peas now line the sand path to the beach. Shadbush, Beach Plum, and Wax Myrtle blooms paint the higher marsh and the wild, scruffy yards around our cottages in luxuriant broad-brushed whites, perfuming the almost-warm air. Around the marsh edges, I try not to alarm the fiddler crabs that bustle around their burrows as they spring-clean for the May Queen."

So begins the "May" chapter of Carl Safina's masterpiece, The View from Lazy Point, about which I have posted several times. The naturalist and MacArthur Genius takes readers on a year-long journey around the planet that is beautiful, inspiring, and terrifying all at once.

This particular passage is the transition from his "April" discourse on the pressures exerted by a growing population to his "May" examination of the value of fishing as a mode of learning, and of his own transition from fishing into graduate school and ornithology. In describing a small but significant observation at the verymost edge of the sea, he evokes a bit of Baby Boomer nostalgia.

See the Stairway post by blogger Rock Legend for lyrics and some insight into the emotional pull of this song, which I looked up just in case some of my students -- who are reading Safina with me -- might miss the reference. As he (?) suggests, I know exactly where I was the first time I heard this song, over thirty years ago. Coincidentally, just after looking this up, NPR aired a story about the longevity of popular songs.

Incidentally, most of my students recognized the song, though very few had heard this rendition by Heart. None of them thought of the song when reading the passage above. I recommended that they give the Heart version another listen -- every day!

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