Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about serious things. Certainly, the political climate as well as my own personal inclinations tend to lead me down a sometimes dark and often passionate path. I don't feel a need to explain my seriousness, but we all need a break from pensive wanderings, sometimes. 

There are so many joys in life. I think they are easy to forget, because they are commonplace and not particularly provocative. Sure, I could devote this entry to the awakening that is spring using terms of fertility and worship and mysticism - but I think I'll leave that be for now.

Columbia has been engaging in an on again, off again romance with warm weather. A month ago, I went out onto my porch to discover a robin hiding on my bird feeder - the first robin of spring, red and cheery and still puffed up and fat with the cold. This morning, I went out and was greeted by 32 degree weather and a desperate need for hotter coffee and long John pjs.  I've had margaritas and hot chocolate, skirts and sweaters, for quite a while.  We've learned, at school, to expect the unexpected - outdoor recess can be a blessing and a curse - and the days when I want to wear sundresses I find myself shivering and cursing any sort of fashion sense. Windy days and a most unlikely Marilyn Monroe.

But still - spring is waking up, not quite stretching or bursting, but insinuating itself into my soul. I pulled out the Buena Vista. I put away my winter clothes.  I started relaxing into the heat.  

Today, when my apartment feels like a refrigerator, I still refuse to give up the warmth.  Spring is my time, a time of re-emergence, a time which is religious.  It is immensely pleasurable.  And don't we all need a bit of re-birth, every once in a while?

I said I wouldn't go into the serious - but here it is.  There's a lot going on in Columbia right now.  School redistricting is coming, and there's talk of the bridge, and the mall changing, and we're all thinking about the Wegmans with awe (the massive parking structure and the fine cheese selection) and apprehension (oh, the traffic).  

There's a lot going on in our country right now.  Conservatives are throat- slitting, democrats are hoping for hope, and all we hear is this negative, this end of things, the shadow of end-of-life and end-of-woman.  End-of-marriage, end-of-love. 

If only we could hear the beckon of spring, the coming, the wakening. If only we were the robin. 

There's this great Calvin and Hobbes strip, where Calvin comes running to Hobbes to report the first robin of spring.  Of course, Hobbes had already seen a robin, and Calvin's joy is smooshed. I think we can all be that way - eager for happiness and ready for defeat. I see this in myself, when I can't wait for the new grocery and am also already bemoaning the traffic on Snowden. I see it when I think about the bridge, and when I am anticipating the failure of this vital project. 

Republicans talk a lot of personal responsibility. This is a great hope, and a good idea.  And then they deny personal responsibility - they are ready to bestow the decree of failure upon people they don't agree with. 

Democrats talk a lot of change, and hope, and caring.  But they don't go far enough, because they know they will be defeated. We strive, but do we always hope to achieve?

I'm sitting on my porch, listening to Billie Holiday.  It's 54 degrees. My apartment is freezing.  And no, I'm not giving up on spring. 

There are so many pleasures in life - if only we could reach out and claim them! My family inspire me in this - my mother created a career which helps so many; my stepfather is passionate and caring and working, ever, so hard; my stepmother is a writer in her heart and devoted in her soul; my father changed his whole life with the ability to see and the need to be. Sometimes I look into them and see spring. And sometimes I can see in myself that capability - when I laugh with my students, when I scrub my kitchen and cook, when I love G, when I sit on the porch and put my iPhone on shuffle and adore, so completely, the blessing of the sun. 

We can be the robin. 

If you believe in personal responsibility, let others be responsible for themselves.  

If you believe in change, be change, fully and with hope.  

If you believe in Columbia, let it grow, without fearful restraint. Let it flourish. Be awakened. Let it wake.  

There is certainly a lot of fear in relinquishing control.  I hate that I won't really know if recess will be delightfully breezy or unbearably cold.  I hate that I live in Columbia and can't see how it can change. I hate that I believe in democracy and yet might find myself under the regime of those with whom I disagree. I hate that we all hate each other, for any reason, for politics or race or gender or neighborhood or just, simply, the way we were made. Sometimes I think it might be cold forever.  

And yet we can.  We can be.  We can be the robin. 

Billie Holiday calls to me.  Young people call out cheers, joyful exhortations, and defiant obscenities from below me on the humble playground outside my apartment. 

When I hear them I think about a city. And I think about a society of diversity. And I think, and I hope, and I pray for spring.  

I talk a lot in grand terms, and it always sounds nice, but here's where it really is - 

Wake up.  Find joy. Hate no one.  

And be. Be my robin. 



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