Let's Get Vernal

April 26, 2020

Hello from lockdown, fellow quarantinos - I hope you’re well. I’ve been remiss about the Blatherins - my pencil broke… As we negotiate our Big Pause, I notice that no one told the goldfinches not to turn yellow, or the bloodroot not to bloom. And while this morning’s shut-in music included Tom Waits singing “You Can Never Hold Back Spring,” I also considered the schizophrenic nature of our seasonal pal. While discussing the recent snow, a friend called Spring a heartbreaker, saying “I prefer a season that knows what it’s about and owns it.” The next day - while performing a quarantine rummaging of old notebooks - I stumbled upon an ode to Spring I’d scrawled several years' back on occasion of the vernal equinox, and after a particularly brutal winter in which I’d worked outdoors, surveying. And I’ll share it here. Be careful out there - see ya soon.


Let’s Get Vernal 

The chilly sun is crawling north, crossing the celestial equator; comb your hair and grab your keys friends - it’s time to get vernal! Spring, we have rolled out the red carpet, giddy to bestow upon you a hero’s welcome. But alas - you’ve stood us up, like a bunch of shivering brides left at an icy altar. But I think I see what transpired; you stayed up too late last night celebrating Winter’s melty demise… “Hey barkeep - one more shot of Chambord!” (I imagine that’s what Spring drinks) and now you’ve awoke - fuzzy & tardy for your first day of work - no time for breakfast - you’re driving like a jackass, hitting every red light. And so the Crocus - pretty little soldier on the front lines of spring - keeps hitting the snooze button and drifting back off… What DO spring flowers dream of…? Sunshine, I suppose. And bees. 

And this year, oh Spring, we pine for your green, balmy touch even more than usual, for Ol' Man Winter was a real son of a bitch. The Bobby Knight of winters - stompin’ up and down the court - wild-eyed & relentless - throwing chairs and scaring the children. Seems he’d taken issue with all the global warming brouhaha, so instead of spending the off-season quaffing rum-spiked blizzards in the basement like usual, he hit the weight room and gulped protein shakes, and by the longest night - when our pal Sunny hits the wall and heads back north - he was ripped & ornery. Jeezus - he even strong-armed Autumn - I had the long-johns on before Halloween! 

But on New Years Eve - already wearied by his frigid beatings - I hatched a cunning plan: I shall grow me a beard and hide behind it - he shall never find me there. Oh… but find me he did… every time I had to dig a hole with an ax dulled by slamming it into asphalt and ice, every swing stinging elbows and rattling teeth, for the shovel was powerless against Winter’s frozen ground. Helluva time to bury a dog. Or a horse.  

And every time Nature cruelly called, and I pawed through layers of clothes with frozen hands while hunching behind a slumbering, leafless tree under a brittle, hopeless sky. (It’s hard to hide in winter - ask a deer.) And every time I stumbled off a wall or into a window well, as the deep snow hid the ground and Winter took delight. Firewood was like gold, whisky was like firewood, and I stopped chasing the spindly, haggard squirrels off the bird feeder, while the juncos, chickadees and cardinals cursed their non-migratory ways.    

Nature writer Hal Borland said “No winter lasts forever, no spring skips its turn.” And now I’m crawling around in Winter’s parting gift, which the retreating snow has revealed: a slimy stew of mud, garbage and dog shit. 

But Spring, all is forgiven. Better late than never, old chum. We’ll keep your plate warm, the door unlocked and our pale, weary arms wide open. Welcome.