Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lenten Diary 5

Spring First!

     Spring arrived exactly on time, to the day, here in coastal Virginia and, according to forecasts, continues through Saturday. Then temperatures fall again. Tuesday there could even be snow.
     But the good news is we got to try out our fledgling spring wings for three whole days. That’s a decent practice session. Already my pale white man’s face and hands are turning ruddy and brown again.
     Thanks to the weather, I’ve also gotten out of myself more. I started cultivating my garden, stripping it down for spring plantings. (Not yet, though. Too soon.) Friday I took a long bike ride and stopped for a swim at Northside Pool. I saw green buds on some of the trees.
     And a mocking bird has moved into our woods! I think it’s the first to nest there in all the seven years we’ve lived here. We always had them in the bay oaks around our cottage at the beach. They give me so much pleasure, listening to their concerts of voices.
     We haven’t seen much of the coons. I think they come around late at night. They’re a different bunch from last year, when they came right up to the door in broad daylight to beg. One of our cats, Spook, is familiar with them. She goes her way and they go theirs. No problems.
     It’s amazing to me how much wild life there is around us at the edge of this scruffy woods—what’s left of once-verdant wet lands. For instance, when I go out to toss bird seed on our strip of back yard between the house and the woods, I hear the birds gathering in the trees. I can’t see them. They’re concealed in dense thickets of vines entangled throughout the branches high above me. But the trills, whistles, and chirps among themselves as more and more voices join in...!
     It’s music to my ears.
     I have a fantasy—engendered, I think, in my early exposure to Walt Disney. I imagine myself in a clearing in a wood, sitting on a stump with all the different creatures of Nature gathered around to tell me their stories and hear mine. I can’t explain the fantasy except that it’s another way of saying there’s magic in the woods that can’t be explained by either science or religion. A magic more powerful than either.
     This is far afield from what I thought I’d write about at this point in my Lenten Diary. I thought I’d linger longer on spirituality and mystery. But I realize now there is no greater mystery or more tangible spiritual reality than what happens on our Earth in the spring every year.
     If something like climate change, for instance, were to wipe out or permanently alter that progression of seasons—upon which all our myths of culture and religion are based—what will we believe in then? What mythology could serve as a model for civilization if there were no spring, no season of rebirth after a season of death, as we have always known things to be?
     All that we hold dear depends on our planet staying as friendly as she always has throughout our human history. And who among us can control that?
     I’m just grateful that spring this year, though chilly and often inclement, is definitely coming on. Whatever surprises lie ahead will have to wait their turn.


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