Spring seems a bit slower this year; perhaps it seems so because of aridity, or temperature fluctuations, or any number of observations that include nothing in the realm of data collection. Perceptual, of course; many occurrences simultaneous and phased apart constitute a collection of seasonal markers named Spring; these seasonal markers are quick ways to give a nod to time, to allow for transition and seasonal alterations. For the most part, I’ve been enjoying measuring the timing of things by anecdote, (e.g the creek IS very low, and I haven’t seen some of the insects I’d normally see by now), chit chat by neighbours and friends. There are, of course, the scientists and data collectors among them, the experts who have years of measurement and experiment tucked into notebooks, analysed by software and human alike, to create a much more precise view on the multitudes of processes around us, with us.
There was a blast of heat for about a week followed by a good day or so of rain in early June, so I made my way to Baxter Conservation Area to check on Eric Magrane‘s poems. Baxter is one of my favourite places to visit and to plant poems – and the RVCA has been very friendly to the idea of poems or art emerging/re/versioning from the effect of natural conditions (I’m not really willing to call this erasure work).
Magrane’s poems were planted in the Filmore R. Park Nut Grove at Baxter; it is a bit of a treasure – especially since Baxter has a lot of unique features already. One of several public nut groves in the region, this one, planted in 1979, hosts 60-70 varieties of nut trees and is maintained by ECSONG (The Eastern Chapter of the Society of Ontario Nut Growers) and the RVCA (Rideau Valley Conservation Authority). ECSONG also host a very interesting inventory (“inventree“) of nut species found in Ottawa and ‘outside’ Ottawa.
I planted Magrane’s “the sky: to a bird” and “the sky: frames” in the nut grove during the fall of 2015. They’re in good shape. Unlike previous rout/e poems, I printed “to a bird” on blue vellum-like paper. I planted two versions of “the sky: frames” — one on white paper in the grove, and another on acetate in a hollow log away from the nut grove and closer to the Centre. Magrane’s spacing of “the sky: frames” – its form – and the subsequent resonance of space with text worked well with the transparency of the acetate, opening the view to the plywood beneath (wood with grain), and to the log, decomposing. A similar effect occurred with “to a bird”, printed on the blue vellum-like paper: one could see through the paper to the grain of the wood beneath, and the poem both reflected and refracted a changing sky, as well as anything above the poem (trees, movement). Over winter, however, the blue colour faded to a light blue, visible more as fine streaks, possibly leaching into the plywood below it. I planted two versions of “the sky: frames” because the one in the hollow log, I figured, would be most noticeable by kids. They’re not always be able to walk as far as the nut grove, and tend to look down, or at different levels, than adults. Baxter is quiet, and I often don’t run into anyone while walking, however the beach is a big draw in the summertime, and it is a well-used conservation area.
It was a pretty quiet day at Baxter – though I did see an Eastern Tent Caterpillar; the osprey, too, circling and returning to its nest (did an Olson there!) box.