I’ve always loved the change of seasons. There are those few days when things begin to shift, letting you know that one season is over and another has begun. A week passes and you realize you need to start sleeping with an extra blanket on the bed. Or a night arrives when you can begin to keep the windows open again. The delineation of the border between seasons has always been a time of personal introspection to me. It isn’t simply about putting away sweaters and unpacking sundresses (because, honestly, in the North Country, the sweaters never really get put away), but rather about a mental state of cleaning out the psychic closet.
So when I’m going through my physical closet, shifting corduroys and coats to the back and pulling skirts and light blouses towards the front, I’m also trying to do the same thing in my head. As someone who has always been a bit easily distracted (“Look! Squirrel!”), I’m never completely successful. Something heavy always lingers – a bitterness or bad feeling, an embarrassing memory or a slight I’ve clung to for far too long – but I’m working on it. I’m always working on it. Winter was this feeling, this experience. And now it’s time to move forward into spring.
I’ve been reading Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast and among the many great essays is one called “A False Spring.” In it he writes about the happiness that comes with spring, with the hope of warm weather and the distractions that lie therein, even if it’s a false sort of hope. As those of us who live in the Blue Line know, the weather may switch back suddenly (I’ve never known a Memorial Day that wasn’t bordering on freezing since moving here), but of course Hemingway is talking less literally. Because while everything seems possible those first few weeks of more daylight, there’s always the possibility of reverting to old behaviors, the ones we said we’d change for spring, for summer, for autumn, for winter.
Today it’s rainy and grey and chilly. Yesterday was chilly, too, but it was sunny and the sky was clear and blue. So yesterday it was easier to imagine a real spring, with leaves budding on the trees and everything turning beneath the earth, ready to push through, alive and growing and beautiful. Whereas today it’s not difficult to slip back into the strange, practically snow-less winter and forget that no matter what, everything keeps moving forward. So it may be a false spring, stuttering from one temperature range to the next, uncertain as all springs are, but it is still spring. And there is an inherent hope to such a season that our mythologies associate with rebirth, both physically and spiritually. Even if it might snow in May.