Sunday, April 22, 2018

Finally Spring

My kids and I planted bulbs today.  What a difference one week makes!  The spring warmth has brought everyone outdoors.  People are walking and bicycling by the house.  Cars drive slowly down our street with windows wide open.  The park has been full of people all day.  The daffodils are finally blooming and the hyacinths do not seem far behind.  I even noticed some buds on the lilac bush.  The sunshine, the flowers, the happy people-- it all seems so unlikely and so wonderful.  I think we all half-expected that the winter would never actually end.  Just three days ago, it was still snowing.  I know I was not alone in my winter resentment.  Other members of my family have been belly-aching for weeks and last night, as I was preparing to give a speech at a convention in another part of the state, the elderly woman helping me get set up commented that she had been just disgusted with the snow.  I think she almost took the foul weather personally.

In all this sunshine, it seems impossible to ever be gloomy again.  What funny, inconsistent creatures we human beings can be.  My hope rises and falls with the sun.  Or maybe it isn't hope I'm feeling.  Maybe hope isn't a feeling at all.  I think it might, like love, be something far more than an emotion.  We feel affection and cheerfulness more readily when we are warm, comfortable, well-fed, and in good health.  We blossom and sparkle in the bright moments of life and then, when the dark times come, we are all prickles and sharp edges like bare trees in the winter.  But affection and cheer are not the same as Love and Hope which are ours even when we are alone, afraid, tired, cold, and in pain.  I am reminded of a little stained glass decoration my parents kept in our house when I was little.  It said, "I believe in the sun even when it is not shining.  I believe in God even when He is silent."  Do I still believe?  I'm not sure.  I'm not sure, but I think, maybe, I might.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Warming Up

The weather outside is foul.  Thus far, spring has been little more than a technicality that the everlasting cold has, with obvious contempt, dismissed as irrelevant.  My bulbs and seeds, purchased months ago in a fit of calendar-inspired hubris, sit, unplanted, by my kitchen door.  A layer of ice has coated the bags of potting soil I piled on the back porch.  I really wonder why I bothered at all.

Still, even as I grumble and cuss, I know the spring will come--eventually.  I will plant seeds and bulbs and young trees.  I will feel the sun on my skin and I'll be able to wear two or three fewer layers.  Soon, maybe, the aching cold in my bones will also go away.  For most of  the day, to save money and the planet, the house thermostat is set at 59 or 60 degrees.  When we surrender to a riot of extravagance, we crank it up to 63 degrees, but even then, extra layers are required- leggings and leg warmers, long underwear and thick cardigans topped with one or two more layers of knitted shawls.  I don't notice the cold as much when I'm working around the house, but if I settle to read or write, the cold settles too.   It is a mean-spirited thing, the cold.  I am mightily tired of it.

Again, I remind myself, spring is coming.  It is, even now, knocking on our door.  All that has been real in the past several months of a western New York winter will become a memory.  Then spring itself will fly away and we'll have a western New York summer of oppressive heat and humidity, a condition I can forgive only because it ensures that my curls maintain their bounce.  It does not seem possible that such a fate awaits me.  Like Thomas, I have my doubts.  We all congratulate ourselves on our intellect and imagination, but we are still plodding creatures much tied to what we can sense in the here and now.  All things seem improbable until we are in the midst of them. 

I must take it as a matter of faith that the trees outside my front door will blossom.  There will be birdsong and children shouting and music played from front porches and passing cars.  There will be parades, picnics, and ball games.  People will go into the water- on purpose!  They'll fill the canal again for the first day of the boating season and people will glide by the house on boats both little and big.  We'll drive up to the lake and the water will be blue and clear and the white ice structures, so imposing now, around Niagara Falls will melt away as if they were never there.  The people will come back too and we'll hear the whole world in their accents and languages, as bright and colorful and lovely as the flowers around us.  The spray from the Falls will rise up and coat my glasses in a fine mist and I won't mind one bit because the sun will be warm at my back and my children will be at my side.  All these things are coming with the spring.  I know this from experience.  It has always been so and therefore does not rise to the level of inspired expectation.

I do not need faith to tell me such things are true.  I have lived them and know, experimentally, that the spring will come.  This year.  But what of ten years from now?  Or twenty or fifty?  What then?  The world is changing- has changed already.  We are at the end of many things and one of those things may be us.  I write this last paragraph sparingly, abruptly.  But there it is.  The warmth I so crave will come and after that, more and more and more until there is too much of it.  And now, in a way that I find unsettling, I find I need my faith and wonder where I left it and if it will welcome me back if I ever find it again.  I find that after such a long time of being busy and largely content in my life, I need to write again.  I must have a place for my fear (and hope too maybe) to exist outside my head where it has settled like the bitter cold and chilled me- relentless, unforgiving.  So I return to this blog.

More later.


Finally Spring

My kids and I planted bulbs today.  What a difference one week makes!  The spring warmth has brought everyone outdoors.  People are walking ...