Spring changes everything here in the Midwest. We shed our woolens and heavy coats. Everywhere you look it’s a riot of green. And I find myself wanting to hold onto the cool nights and subtle charms of hummingbirds before it all gets too overheated. The truth is that in most places, spring has gotten so abbreviated that it’s barely a blip. Some almighty hand flips a switch, and then I am wearing a linen tunic, waving myself with a logo-branded paper fan from last year’s steamy Pitchfork festival. But the one promise spring always keeps is its sense of a threshold. It’s a resplendent beginning of what’s next.
The long-wished-for spring brings rites of passage: proms, graduations, weddings, live concerts, outdoor festivals. This year, all that is being reimagined. The world is cracked open by COVID. How like spring to renovate an old idea and freshen it to make it new.
Everything takes us by surprise in spring. Yesterday, I picked up Walt Whitman’s numinous Leaves of Grass for the first time in decades. Whitman’s energy leapt from the page, stirring the spirit of spring. I could picture the lilacs in the dooryard blooming as the scent of lilacs in my own backyard blew through the open window as if summoned.
This year the spring equinox, the day when the sun rises and sets at the very same degrees, was the earliest in 124 years, thereby extending spring. Sublime, I say. It’s my intent to drag my feet through spring. I’m slowing it down even if the weather suddenly gets hot, as it has in years past. My aim is not to adopt a mindset that makes the most of my time during the quarantine. Rather, I want to extend the spirit of spring—because it holds the power to renew us.
Here’s my spring to-do list:
- Go outside every day, distance and mask as needed.
- Remove a bit of clothing.
- Sit in the sun.
- Plant seeds.
Spring is about planting and blooming. The growth begins beneath the surface. And the mysterious cracking open of a seed is an important part of the process of becoming what’s next for us.
Be safe, everyone!
Photo courtesy of Crossett Library archive, Bennington College