~ Peter Matthiessen, “The Snow Leopard”
Spring is springing out everywhere here. This year it feels like we’re more hungry for it than I can remember. Maybe seeing the buds and joyful blossoms restores a sense of order and normalcy, an assurance life is going forward.
We’re always eager for spring but maybe we’re extra hungry because this year has forced death and transitions into our consciousness — a scary thing in a culture that does its best to deny decay as an equal half of the circle of being. Generally our society prefers not to recognize we’re engaged in an endless process of growing and aging and continuous change.
Along the riverbanks the natural toll of the winter is conspicuous. Like every year, ancient trees, seemingly solid middle-aged adults, and some young saplings all succumbed as part of the ongoing cycle and the energy they accumulated steadily infuses new growth. I write this knowing many have lost family members and close friends and in no way mean to diminish the pain and challenges of letting go of those we love. I feel it as my own mother approaches the midpoint of her 10th decade. Considering letting her, or anyone we love go, literally breaks one’s heart. This breaking and healing too is a process.
Many have also stepped up this year to take on extra care for those who are ill, attending to seniors especially, but those in need of all ages. For some of us who aren’t directly offering physical care, our wishes may translate into concern for those we know and love. I try not to let this manifest as worry. I aim toward “conscious awareness” of others that, in my better moments, might be labeled “sending intentions.” Some might call it “prayer” of a sort, though I prefer the former term (hopefully without offense to anyone) because the latter suggests mythologies interceding that I don’t require. However we name it, for me it’s a way to consciously reinforce our too-often ignored bonds to one another.
The fishermen were out in droves along the greenway early this morning, playing their part in the food chain. I assume the waters were recently restocked. Several brought along young ones. While dad may be able to savor patiently watching his line, it made me smile and recall my own youth watching his restless eight year old boy playing his part: meandering the bank, spinning twirling twigs, hopping rock to rock, and creatively looking for any way to lessen his own boredom. Further along, a trio (dad, boy, and girl) are leaning on the wall of a concrete bridge gazing down where the babbling creek pours into the river. It’s a treat to see the gangly son fully engaged and pointing at the water toward what I assume is a “big one”, and an added bonus to catch the girl glancing my way, return my smile as she softly waves.
The path along the river is always a mix. There were folks with dozens of seasons pushing their limbs and hearts to keep strong. From a distance I see a young couple with a beautiful lab stop. Curiously, the man has gone into the weeds by the water. He emerges and proudly hands a single daffodil to his partner. It occurs to me they may be pregnant as I pass them.
Kids are on my mind the last couple of days. One close friend has been struggling through the somewhat expected, still challenging, melodramatic “teen-into-adulthood” moment with his daughter. Another friend’s not-yet-teen daughter contracted COVID and (thankfully) burned through a few days fever and is now on the mend. I can only offer shoulders and ears to one, and support from a distance to the other. I try not to give advice nor platitudes, having learned by past trials and especially this year that nothing is assured.
When not distracted by people or my own thoughts, beautiful, hopeful yellow buds silently reveal their presence, emerging amid the decaying trees, dead stalks, and ever-changing river. Whether in moments of strife, transition, or joy, the best we can offer one another is an open-heart, an awareness of our shared energies, and our inextricable connection to each other and all life.