This may come as a surprise, but the seasons and weather are very important to me. They give a percussive, underlying rhythm to my life and I walk by it every single day. There aren’t many days or even moments where I don’t view my life and what’s going on inside it within the context of the nature taking place around me. I have my particular feelings and opinions about each season.
And now we enter that fickle transitional period of winter — > spring. I always get a little restless this time of year. Maybe because the earth is too, and I try my best to mirror whatever the trees do, as a rule. But I feel restless, noticing full well the sun outside my window but feel a real trepidation at allowing myself to go out, to be outside just for the sake of being outside, something I end up vowing never to do again until I am SURE the snow will never show its ugly face again. But I’m noticing the signs and try to make sense of them. I’m noticing the buds on the trees and the slivers of tulip leaves slicing through the earth, slipping through unnoticed until they’re just there, startling everyone, like one of nature’s many pranks. It’s a brave new world during a brave new time. And we find ourselves facing it again, waiting to be reintroduced.
I can never put my finger on why this transitory period is so difficult for me. Is it difficult? Maybe unsettling is the word. Never quite knowing my place in the natural context. Am I here or am I there? Is it time? Where do you want me? How do I feel? What IS my place? Where AM I going? All of those silly questions begin flashing through my mind as the reel starts up again, thoughts I’ve had before as an eerie celebration of the anniversary of questions I always have this time of year.
I am in the midst of collecting poetry and a classic that recently came into my path is Nothing Gold Can Stay, by my good pal Robert Frost. I always thought it was sort of a commentary on beautiful things and how they’re fleeting, but I realized it’s really a poem about spring. Examine:
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
And I further realized that spring is not a destination, it’s a thoroughfare, and a glorious one. It’s transitory essence is like a sunrise, the budding trees a stepping stone to the more stable summer green. It’s elusive because it was never meant to last. It’s the earth being re-born and like birth, it’s a beginning- a traumatic, violent celebration trumpeting of things to come, but not of itself. His poem speaks to the tragic impermanence of beauty but lest I forget, it’s also cyclical. Repetitively fleeting, a fly-by glimpse of reminders of hope I’ve luckily been witness to before, and will again.
Well. A friend recently sent me an excerpt that I love and that, I think, finally explains a little bit of the happy dissonance taking place. Because I do enjoy or at least appreciate it. I’m excited! But also nervous. It’s like a tightly bound thrill beginning to be unfurled. Spring! Or is it? Yes? No? When? Soon? SPRING! Is it??
Here’s the answer, and a possible response to Frost, as explained by Kurt Vonnegut:
One sort of optional thing you might do is to realize there are six seasons instead of four. The poetry of four seasons is all wrong for this part of the planet and this may explain why we are so depressed so much of the time. I mean, Spring doesn’t feel like Spring a lot of the time, and November is all wrong for Fall and so on. Here is the truth about the seasons. Spring is May and June! What could be springier than May and June? Summer is July and August. Really hot, right? Autumn is September and October. See the pumpkins? Smell those burning leaves. Next comes the season called “Locking.” That is when Nature shuts everything down. November and December aren’t Winter. They’re Locking. Next comes Winter, January and February. Boy! Are they ever cold! What comes next? Not Spring. Unlocking comes next. What else could [March and] April be?
Ah ha! And there we have our answer! Fickle March is fickle because it isn’t winter and it isn’t spring! It’s unlocking! And that period after fall has finished but before winter has begun is the last few sweeps of Earth tidying up and closing shop. Locking. I love this so much, it explains so much. It’s not spring that I’m disturbed by, but this strange yet exciting unlocking that is its precursor, a prophet of its poetry. It gives a balm to my soul, a name to my feelings, and I wish you and yours a very thrilling Unlocking indeed.