Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Epiphany #23: The Rites Of Spring

Spring is sprung,
The grass is riz,
I wonder where
The birdies is.

--from Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In

It happens all of a sudden, even as it surrounds you, because the signs, the changes, are so small and seemingly slow that the shift from brown to green has some natural tipping point that most of us don't notice, even if we hunger for it.

Having cut my grass twice already and it hasn't even turned green yet (the weeds needed trimming), I can officially declare what the calendar has already confirmed:  Spring is here.  The junk I inhaled into my lungs confirmed it as well--pollen, dust from last year's leaves, and all of the microscopic stuff that is travelling through the air right now.

All around us, we see the rituals and reawakenings taking place, and while many of those rebirths mean a bunch of work as well, especially in the yard, it is good work, gratifying work, and most of us are happy to do it.

But what I like best about Spring is how its arrival ignites the human spirit.  Now that Spring is actually here, it is easy to forget the many ways that we humans try to nudge it along, force it, drag it into being.  When we get tired of winter, when we get Spring on the brain, there isn't much that can stop us from living the dream.  And so we act.

Having been both deep into the South and way up North over Spring Break, I saw various evidences of this, out and about and in my memory:

In New York City, on a brisk, windy day in the 40's, I saw couples sitting at outdoor tables at restaurants, happily eating and enjoying drinks because the sun was out, because it was late March, because the snows have come too many times.  Yes, in some places, there were portable heaters, but in other places there weren't.  It did not seem to matter.

In Chicago, the city imposes laws that dictate how long a restaurant can keep up its outdoor furniture.  According to my brother, who runs a restaurant there, left to their own devices, Chicagoans would be sitting outside as long as the day was decent, or even in down coats if there was just a pale winter sun.

In New Orleans, where Spring probably never comes dramatically because it is almost always warm enough, my friend and I stopped in front of the window boxes and gazed jealously at arrangements of flowers and pots of herbs, anticipating the growing season in our own yards and wishing it were here.

In New Hampshire, when I was in grad school, I remember one winter that it was so cold that on a sunny day when it finally reached 32 degrees, we played touch football outside in short-sleeved shirts.

So forget the dandelions and the sneezes, the picking up and hauling of broken limbs, the dead plants that will need to be dug up, or how your office is always either too hot or too cold in any given day or week.  These are but the creaky, wheezy signs of a world shedding what it no longer needs and making way for the new.  Spring never comes soon enough.


troutking said...

Good post. Probably why the Jayhawks would have been a bigger hit if their album had been called TODAY the Green Grass.

stowstepp said...

I totally agree Bob. This past weekend we finally got a glimpse of true spring in the Boston area. I'm still waiting for all the snow to melt in my yard though...