First steps

A lopsided tree on a trail in Patrick's Point Park in winter where I am taking first steps running

At the trailhead
I vacillate and waver,
shake away the urge to start, as if it were a pest aiming at my face,
turn my attention to a thought-that-cannot-wait-a-moment-longer,
though it has lain forgotten for days.

Drizzle dots my glasses sliding down a cold nose
Random aches nag
The bench on the bluff lures me to stay, sit
and see platinum sky melt into gunmetal ocean.

But I can’t:
A breath of wind and the lopsided dead tree ahead will slam down onto the trail
and cut off passage.
Time is tight
to press on and reach past the tree.
Too late is too close.

Yet I dither,
find excuses
detail pressing commitments I never made
impede the progress burning urgent
within.

Until
I wrest the first step.
Soon legs and feet fall into a trotting rhythm,
soles spring on rain-loosened loam.
Browning ferns crowd along the path—
dying, so spring can bring new growth.
Bright green fiddleheads will uncurl and unfurl.

The hesitant first step is effaced in the glow of the endorphins’ high
tide flowing in.

At the top of the page
I dither and doodle,
shake away the urge to write, as if it were a pest aiming at my face,
turn my attention to a task-that-cannot-wait-a-moment-longer,
though it has lain undone for days.

I brew a fresh cup of black tea
Inhale the sweet steam,
sip.
I quarter and core a Fuji apple
Bite after bite I eat it, a drop of juice escaping from my lips
chased and captured by the tongue.
Time is tight
to press on and reach the bottom of the page.
A bite of bitter chocolate
melts in my mouth

Now

Right hand prods the fountain pen
Nib whispers
Blue ink seeds the page
of the notebook the same hand sewed with precise stitches.

When I stop I am tired
The tracker shows over 3 miles run
The notebook 3 pages filled
bleeding onto a fourth.

Not every day sets a personal running record
Not every day the words will survive the editing shears
But today’s trotting is training for tomorrow’s run
Today’s still sentences are training for the full moon
setting on the ocean
sparking off the page.


© 2015-2017 Simona Carini

Garden nasturtium

Leaf of garden nasturtium with raindrops
Leaf of garden nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)

August 2013

Garden nasturtium‘s large shield-shaped leaves gather water drops (dew or rain) like solar panels gather sunlight.

On a horizontal leaf, droplets slide towards the depression at the center. In the morning, a giant lenticular drop reflects my image on its tense convex surface — a dome that wiggles in the breeze, a drinking pool for the visiting hummingbird.

I wish there were something similar for sunlight, a way of collecting a small pool of it, into which I could dip a finger or a brush and paint the day on the canvas of time stretching ahead.

If the leaf is in a vertical position, drops glide on its slightly parabolic surface and end up hanging from the bottom edge, suspended over the abyss.

Nasturtium plants exhibit a tendency to take over our garden. Besides embracing the house in several spots with sometimes suffocating enthusiasm, they worm their way into the jasmine bush, wrap themselves around draining pipes, blanket the compost pile, emerge where I least expect them.

Sturdy stems push their way forward with determination: there is no crevice, however small, they won’t explore. They find plenty of opportunities around our house, tugged by tectonic forces stronger than its foundations.

Garden nasturtium flowers in bloom
Garden nasturtium flowers in bloom

The yellow nasturtium flowers compete in brightness with the sun during the day and the orange ones out-orange the setting sun. They are also winners on the table.

Raw nasturtium flowers pop into a flash of flowery pepperiness in the mouth, firecrackers exploding with flavor rather than sound. They brighten a butter lettuce or steamed snap bean salad with both their color and their zest. Tossed into a skillet with cooked dark leafy greens, their splash of brightness is like a lightning fracturing the darkness of the night sky.

Pressed between two layers of pasta dough, nasturtium petals make an edible “stained glass” that charms the eyes.

A harvest of garden nasturtium's seedpods
My harvest of garden nasturtium’s seedpods

In flowers left to complete their life cycle, seedpods develop as the petals wilt and fall off. They cluster in groups of three or four, light green and succulent. They are called “poor man’s capers,” I learned. One evening around sunset, it didn’t take me long to harvest a cup. I carried them to the kitchen on a large nasturtium leaf and pickled them in distilled white vinegar. When the right combination of ingredients presented itself, they played their role well and henceforth will be called “lucky woman’s capers.”


© 2015-2017 Simona Carini