Thursday, April 26, 2012

On the bright side: an iris in someone's front yard

When I reworked my web site on the WordPress platform earlier this month I had to cast around for a 'sub-title' to the site name, 'cuz there was a field to be filled out and the default (Just another WordPress site) wasn't doing anything for me. I looked at my sound-byte bio here on One Finger Typing, and figured I could re-use "writer" and "activist" ... but lists are so much better when they enumerate in threes.

What else besides "writer" and "activist" then? I'm not so interested in showcasing my day job on the site; that's what LinkedIn is for. My father likes to joke that I'm forever trying, unsuccessfully, to be a curmudgeon. It's never clear whether he's trying to goad or dissuade me. Hmmm... Thanks, Dad, for item #3: writer, activist, aspiring curmudgeon.

When I looked at the titles of my posts so far this month I realized I've been skewing pretty heavily toward my pessimistic, curmudgeonly aspect, and even the arty and bookish posts were kind of heavyweight. So with only a few more chances to blog in April I think what's called for is something lighter. Something ... purty.

Those who keep an eye on my Tumblr know I take a lot of walks around Berkeley, especially on the weekends. And to take a walk in Berkeley is necessarily to admire the lovely front yards of a city with more than its fair share of excellent, committed gardeners. It would be impossible to pick a 'best' front yard, or a 'favorite' flowering tree or bush or bulb. Seriously, Berkeley is awash in vegetal eye candy.

But the iris pictured in the images here -- snapped with nothing fancier than the camera built into an iPod Touch -- took my breath away the weekend before last.

In its startling strength, its simplicity and delicacy as a thing, a life, and a work of nature's art, this lone iris reminded me of the pared-back power of imagist poetry.

Think William Carlos Williams, The Red Wheelbarrow:

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

That's the thing about being an aspiring curmudgeon, but not quite measuring up. Just when you imagine you've attained the height of bitter snarkiness, a flower by the roadside changes everything.

Related posts on One Finger Typing:
Mark Rothko on art and oedipal struggle
It's the culture, stupid: blindered blather on Amazon, Apple, and the agency model
Flowery front yards in Berkeley

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