How long has it been since I have noticed the seasons?
I walked out this morning to get into my car to drive to work. Just like every morning for the past thirty years. That twenty-yard walk is about all the time I spend out of doors anymore and I don’t even feel that. I have one coat, a light jacket, really, that I wear all year until the summer. It’s all I need for the five minutes between leaving the house and getting the heater going in the car. And it is simple. One coat; one day; one more day.
This morning I did not wear the jacket. I had misplaced it and it was April and not cold enough to justify the time and frustration it would have taken to find the jacket. And when I went out I felt the spring chill and it was like feeling the world again. I took my first, regular steps toward the garage, but then I stopped, not knowing immediately why. But I had caught the scent of something that reminded me of something else. I still don’t know the source of it. It was probably some mixture from the blossoms of those little ground plants that come up in the spring on the hillside above our subdivision. But it was the same – or seemed the same – as the light scents that floated in the air on my walks to school at this time of year, this season of the year, so many decades ago.
I knew the seasons then. I looked forward to summer. The freedom from the classroom; the freedom from the morning alarm. And Christmas and the anxious hope of better surprises than I had actually asked for. And later I learned of the magic of spring. How the scent of the blossoms could transport me and whisper promises. There were days then when the forsythia and azaleas and ironwood painted the hillsides with such vivid crimson and gold that I knew I had entered another world or at least knew that there must be another world. These days promised and pointed to something that summer, despite its heavy green growth, never quite delivered
As I stood there that morning, between the door of the house and the door of the car, I knew I was in danger. I admitted to myself again that what I had forgotten of the magic of life, the magic of the earth, I had forgotten deliberately. I had to face the day. Face the days, that is. Reality. The fact that bills had to be paid and that every bill was getting higher and every paycheck lower and every day at the office taught me that the only wisdom was anxiety. There was never enough time; never enough energy.
The danger was that this morning – my brief and unplanned experience of it – would remind me of who I once was, what I once believed and hoped for, and what I had become.