Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Michigan in bloom, and memories of France

Last night, as I drove home from the studio along the shore of Lake St. Clair in that peculiar gray-mauve light that sometimes appears at dusk, I was suddenly back in Normandy at a small museum lined with ancient, petit-point tapestries and intricate embroideries bathed in the gray light of a rainy day.  The water reflected pinking cloud masses, flickering with mystery, and the trees!  People who don't live in Michigan don't know about the trees.  In spring, Michigan experiences a revival unlike any I've ever seen.  It may be the stark contrast with the intense and lifeless gray of winter, which in Detroit is more severe than in many other places.  But the flowering trees are also more numerous than elsewhere -- tulip trees, apple and cherry trees, early rhods and some very early azaleas, immense swaths of brilliantly yellow forsythia, and now the redbuds........and of course the tulips and daffodils (white, yellow, some with orange trumpets) burst from the ground like neon elements in somebody's dream fabric...  But last night it was particularly amazing.  Because of the graytone background and failing light, the explosion of blooms might as well have been done by a Frenchwoman centuries ago -- tiny white petit-point stitches, red-fading-to-pink puffs, baby green French knots, all over the dull ash-brown branches....but delicate, the blossoms like very precise decorations on a fading landscape.  This happens only at a particular time of day, in pre-storm weather, at certain times of year.  And it cannot be captured on a camera, so I can't share it.   But those of you who live by water in big industrial cities may recognize the medieval quality of what I can barely describe.



  1. Oh, I do remember this. The point where you realize it really will be ok for the next few months; all that renewal going on. I agree Michigan is one of the most beautiful places I have lived (well, actually, they have all had their charms). You captured this for me very well.

  2. It was also a sad moment for me, because I know I won't return to Normany. Too much else in life, and I have been luckier than most people to have been there so many times. But, still, the memory was bittersweet. svb