Things Long Unnoticed

Spring is a concept I used to feel intimately, having once lived in New England. It was a shock to the system after a long winter to feel the change in the air and suddenly you knew it was spring– you take off the gloves despite the March winds and there, the sun warms your chapped hands. I remember days in Connecticut without sun; the skies threatened snow but never made good on it, and every tendon, every vein, down into the sinew and bones, it all ached for light and cloudless blue. It was the flowers that meant sweet relief.

Florida has a subtler spring, one you can’t quite put your finger on. There is a sneaking greenness that no one seems to notice, a dampness that is warm. It jolts me sometimes to see what a Floridian swamp-child I’ve become, but here in New York it’s spring.

The air doesn’t know it yet; the winter has been so warm that the sharpness lingers late into March, but the flowers know. They know it far better than the wind, and they know it well enough to teach me again what spring means. New York gave me forsythias for Ostara. Screw the crocus that everyone sees as spring’s first blossom (the tiny white four-petaled flowers of my grandmother’s yard came sooner, anyhow, than those silly purple things– the white ones so frail before the robustness of the crocus, and almost indistinguishable from the patches of retreating snow); screw the lilies loved outside of their Christian context (their stalks were always strange to me, their blossoms so big and fierce and alien). The forsythias are my Pagan messengers of warmth-to-be. I remembered from childhood all of the bushes of my driveway suddenly spewing yellow into the world, bright and ridiculous before any other buds had come into being. Queens is dotted with their gold; the entry of the Met is spilling over with yellow.

I had forgotten what kind of hope spring can sometimes give. Thank you, New York, for the forsythias.

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