People in the New York Metro area have been asked to remain mostly at home, a directive made easier by the abnormally cold and wet spring we have been enduring. Watching flowers, birds, leaves, strong wind, constant showers, and other seasonal signs has been better accomplished from warm rooms or heated cars. A brief dash, well bundled, is what most of us manage, even to view the tulips in the park where the show goes on even through the festival has been cancelled.
I am used to seeing goslings hatch around now, although they are often associated with me wearing shorts and tee shirt rather than heavy coat and ski mask. But I noticed three broods following their parent along seaweed shoreline in howling winds at thirty two degrees. A harsh way to be introduced to the world. Meanwhile, I am observing nests being built in several bushes around the house, mostly protected from the elements, definitely hidden from the hawks.
Nature continues, regardless of what humans and weather may do. Squirrels are chasing about, chipmunks are out of hibernation, bees and gnats and flies fill the air. Birdsong is far more noticeable now that aircraft are absent.
In spite of the drumroll of death, which is terrible, and “dire” predictions of the economy to come, and great angst about how society may change, this can be seen in some ways as a happy spring. The air is clear for the first time in years. The environment seems to be making a comeback. Scenery far and near is incredibly beautiful. We are reminded once more of the majesty and awe of existence. Perhaps even my neighbors are bored enough to enjoy nature when they get tired of listening to grim media news.
I have lived in a deceptively secure and predictable world. There is always food. A child’s death is unexpected. Old people think themselves young as they pass eighty years. But not long ago, it was not so, and we were more like those geese. Most children, like goslings, died before they were five. People wore out fast, were old by forty, and incapacitated by sixty, an age which relatively few achieved. At least a few times in every lifetime there were famines or plagues or wars. We had hoped to be done with all that; it is jarring to suddenly encounter something like them, even here, even now.
An eternal human hubris is to perceive the world as unchanging, followed by the even more incredible belief that we control our lives. We can certainly control our inner thoughts and mental existence, but as any survivor of any tragedy knows, much still lies beyond our power. When change comes, especially awful change, it is hard or impossible to accept. When good change occured, for the last fifty years or so, I have taken it for granted.
Full spring now, cool perhaps, maybe too much rain, but glorious. The annual visual spectacular repeats, and cycles of the seasons still comfort me. I enjoy sky, wind, trees, flowers, cardinals, jays, robins, squirrels, and our dashing little chipmunk and (as long as I stay away from the TV) am incredibly grateful just to be aware.