My first spring, way back when, I remember nothing about. At that age, my world was limited to whatever I could reach, and that wasn't much. It would be several years before I understood the importance of spring, and how the hardy perennials that had gone into hiding a few months before now dared to show their faces once more.
Given our lofty position on the food chain, we're supposed to be able to disdain that sort of hibernation for ourselves: we shrug, add a couple of layers of clothing, and continue right through the winter as though nothing had happened. And to a certain extent, we can continue this practice indefinitely: I've made it through sixty-two springs now, and I'm pretty adept at both layering and shrugging. Still, there's an upper limit on just how perennial we're allowed to be, and while that limit has been moved farther out in recent years, it still exists, and there are times when it seems awfully close.
Eventually, of course, the door will close, as it must for us all. And if I've learned anything since that first spring, it's that while I may have some modest amount of control over when that door shuts, eventually it will shut, and so far as is known for certain, that will be the end of that. (I persist in believing that this level of consciousness exists for a reason I have yet to comprehend, and that the closing of the door will be accompanied by the explanation thereof, but it's not like I can send you a Snapchat of the moment when it happens.) "Here today, gone tomorrow" is true of every one of us, for various values of "tomorrow."
What helps, at least in my case, is that absent a plausible estimate of when "tomorrow" is supposed to be, I don't have to worry about it much. I would hardly claim to be angst-free at this age; but when I consider my thirties and forties, I have to concede that my sixties, so far, have been downright placid. The getting of wisdom? I have my doubts about that: most of the things that would have upset me at seven will probably still upset me at seventy. Perhaps it's a growing indifference to the whole idea of mortality, based on the obvious fact that there's nothing I can do to fend it off. Certainly I haven't expended any effort on focusing on the consequences of my eventual demise: I have made nothing resembling funeral plans, other than to select two songs I'd like to have played during the service, assuming a service is held. (And technically, they're not songs, there being no words.)
As we are reminded constantly these days, winter is coming. The first freeze has passed, and it was a good, hard one; just the same, the last rose on the bush continues to bask in the late-autumn sun, daring the winter to take it away. It can't last forever, of course, and it won't. But spring always follows winter, and at least in the twelve years I've lived here, so do roses. In three years I have seen three trees die, too little water followed abruptly by too much; but ten remain on the grounds, and propagation being what it is, trees owned by neighbors are starting to produce offspring on my side of the fence.
There is, of course, a lesson to be learned from that: life goes on no matter what. We can build the most aggressively shaped overpass, far away from the ground as we can manage, and we can slap a row of Jersey barriers along the side of it. And just the same, grass will grow, and someone will eventually be tasked to remove it. Temporarily.
And while life goes on, things you never imagined happening will happen. Night before last, out of sheer clumsiness, I destroyed a perfectly innocent (cheap plastic) towel bar. (Replacement at Lowe's: around $9. I am not, however, doing any shopping until Saturday at the earliest.) Earlier this fall, I discovered that someone who by rights should have forgotten me entirely by now somehow hasn't. I take neither of these events as omens; rather, they serve as reminders that when you get right down to it, I have no excuse being bored.
Perhaps I should make a prayer of it. "O Lord, grant me this one more spring, and I promise not to be bored." I don't know how long that will work, but then again I'm not supposed to.
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Copyright © 2015 by Charles G. Hill