Last month’s post was originally intended for January—coinciding with the time when resolutions often address destructive compulsions. However, the entry wasn’t ready, and by my esteem also not aligned with the timing. So I posted it after the vernal equinox, a time by when many 1/1 resolutions have been abandoned.
Generally I don’t participate in January resolutions—not because determination to change is bad, or because I’m beyond the need for improvements. Rather, I find waiting for an occasion encourages procrastination. Moreover, I dislike the pressure—the new year exaggerates the height of expectations timed with it. Though January resolutions are appropriate for some, I prefer to act upon inspiration, regardless of timing.
That said, I do value external motivation, which I constantly find in nature. More and more I am inspired in spring, a catalyst to enact many of my wintry introspections. Spring, with its plethora of births, is much more seemly for my resolutions.
Though most of my employment is on a school schedule (thus quieter during summer), I wake up at the same time year-round: 5:00am, so to have time to meditate and chant briefly before practicing at the yoga studio. Though many people call my schedule crazy, one of the things I like most is noticing seasonal shifts.
Winter mornings always feel solitary—I am the only one stirring (albeit barely) in the cold, silent darkness. Other than the occasional car outside, I hear my voice when I chant and my breathing.
Early spring is obvious in Atlanta during daytime, but the mornings are still cold and dark. The imposing silence, however, is supplanted by birdsong. So although the visual experience is the same, the sonic environment has altered completely. For the first few weeks of spring, I hear several different birdcalls while I sit. Usually I can pinpoint many individuals, as the singing seems call-and-response. I figure the birds must be conversing.
By mid-spring, so many birds join the convergence that I can barely distinguish melodies, let alone individual birds. The amalgamation is so loud that sometimes I wake to it rather than my alarm. Yet it never sounds cacophonous; even my chanting blends well. I love sharing musical space. And still I wonder what inspires birdsong—surely the daily routine doesn’t change much within a season. Usually I figure the birds are rejoicing—another day to fly and sing and eat and live. (Maybe their schedule is the opposite of that of humans, who tend to celebrate at night. Of course, other animals celebrate at night—crickets and are still my favorite night music.)
T. S. Eliot, in contrast, wrote that “April is the cruellest month.” The reasoning in The Waste Land is flowers growing from the dead land mix “memory and desire”—whereas winter’s forgetful snow kept the world warm. No disrespect to a master, but I appreciate that memory and desire re-create life. Worth noting that he wrote those lines after living in Britain for several years, on his way to becoming a naturalized citizen there. I imagine April is far more dismal and dreary in that climate.
(I will concede, however, that perhaps the initial sensation could be cruel. Plants feed on light, yet seeds are planted underground. The beginning of the life of seeds usually lacks light, with only the sense of direction in which to grow.)
Atlanta is known by many for its explosive pollen in early spring, but I find the floral bombardment far more powerful. On dogwoods, as well as many other trees, leaves are barely visible while the flowers are in bloom.
After the flowers, spring in Atlanta is a multiplicity of greens, more shades and nuances than I can articulate: hunter, kelly, olive, jade, pea, emerald, grass, lime, sea, bottle. Plus magnolia, which has more waxiness than pine. And the cloudy, maybe ashy, green of rosemary.
Spring sunlight, now filtered through that green, changes. Yet spring also has much more dark—not the lengthy but pale shadows of winter, but deep layers from the green canopy. By midday, the courtyard at my building is in shade. Streets bright in winter become pleasant escapes from the heavy heat.
What I like most are breezy spring days, though they are unusual. Tree limbs billow, the narrower ones swaying like strands of seaweed underwater. The moving air exposes the undersides of leaves—another full set of complementary greens.
Amidst all these shades of birth and growth and transformation, much of my headspace and heartspace considers change—the compulsions I want to recondition, as well as the means to do so. More on that soon.
SK © 2012