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COMMENTARY BY WILLIAM CARTER: Springtime in Middle Tennessee

A bumble bee zips by followed by another and they bounce and roll around on thin air a foot or two above the hanging basket brimming at the edges with petunias and vinca and something yellow I don’t know the name of and bought and planted only because it caught my eye and then the bumble bees dart away over the hedge of quince and spirea and scraggly azaleas and Knock-Out roses going to wherever it is that bumble bees go and I wonder where that is because that’s what I do, mostly, when I sit outside after I’ve done all the things I’m supposed to do … I wonder.

The sparrows are feeding at the forest of feeders we’ve planted around the tree stump in our backyard and there are finches and wrens and an occasional cardinal or two and fat squirrels every now and then and at the base of that stump there’s a flat rock that acts as a platter for the apple slices and grapes and strawberries Love-Weasel arranges there for the birds that don’t eat bird seed and beside that fl at rock is an old and broken and weathered bird house once painted pastel green that’s been retired from the trees and serves now as an abode for the tiny creatures I imagine exist only in my imagination and sometimes I think that if I look without really looking I will see them looking back at me and wondering what it is I am wondering about.

I am hugged by a nimbus of magic air – warm and pale, yellow-green – created by the late-April sun rays sifting their way through the new leaves in the canopy above me and shadows move and shift and fl ow with the breeze and create perpetually new patterns of dark and light on my face and my arms and my legs and my chest and the grass and the steps and the side of our house and when I look up I see blue between the leaves and I see pollen and other tiny airborne things fl are up then fade away as they catch their share of the sunlight before passing again into shadow and I wonder if it’s okay to think of it all as choreography and then decide there is no other word.

The sun moves west a bit beyond the leaf-line, bathing my face and my body in the warmth of finally … finally … spring and I lean back in my chair and close my eyes and breathe in deep the smell of heat and newly cut grass and the just-watered garden and what’s left of last winter’s fallen leaves – damp from rain the night before – slowly decomposing beneath the rhododendrons and sometimes I wonder if when I breathe in then breathe out again a small part of me leaves to travel around this world on the breeze to places I’ll never go and I wonder if I sit in this same place long enough will I breathe in again what I breathed out before and be made whole.

A child calls from a backyard acres away from ours and is answered by another child and across the fi eld – more acres away – the muted hiss and hum of car tires along the blacktop lulls me almost to the edge of sleep and then I hear the ice in the glass of tea on the table beside me rearrange itself and the drone of a mower down the street and from just inside the screen door the cats give their indignant opinions about not being allowed out and then the screen door slides open then slides closed and I hear Love-Weasel murmur to Bear- Dog – stretched out on a sunny spot along the fl ower bed – and he responds with that groan the way big dogs groan at a touch from someone they love and then the other chair creaks and I open my eyes and Love-Weasels sitting there with her hair in a pony-tail and she’s wearing a sleeveless t-shirt and there are freckles across her nose because she’s been in the sun and I wonder for the 10,000th time what she’s doing with me.

And then I wonder about how easy it is to be reminded the world’s a fine, fine place and we’re all lucky to here.

It’s springtime in Middle Tennessee.

William Carter is a longtime Franklin city employee and published author. He may be contacted at

Posted on: 5/10/2013


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