Monday, March 10, 2014

Spring: The Great Revealer

Green grass emerging from under the melting snow.
Today and over the weekend, it finally felt like spring might actually be on its way. (The Vernal Equinox is just around the corner.) I took a walk in Leif Erickson Park after school to look for signs of spring--there were places where the snow had melted completely away. I bumped into Brady N--he and lots of other folks were out and about, walking and jogging. Some people were even wearing shorts. When I got back inside, I started tearing down the plastic film I put up over my windows many months ago to keep out the drafts. I was tempted to open a window, but I didn't. 

I'll have to be satisfied with these sweet-smelling
Paperwhite Narcissus until the spring wildflowers bloom.
We're getting close to my favorite time of year now, when the snow will melt away, and the first wildflowers will sprout. I know, I know--March is typically our snowiest month, and we've had blizzards in April, but as some people were saying in class today, you can smell a change in the air. 

Yeah, you know what that is...
In fact, for a time this afternoon, folks in F-Wing caught a whiff of skunk in the building. Spring doesn't always smell sweet. As more and more of the snow melts, and as the sun warms the soil, all the dead vegetation (and other detritus!) from last fall that was frozen under the snow will resume the process of decomposition that winter interrupted. Underneath the freshness of the spring air, we'll detect the odor of death as well. 

That sounds a bit ominous, but it's true. The fresh, green beauty of spring rises up from the rotten, brown ugliness of the past. It's a sublime and miraculous process, and one the poets love to ponder. I always think of the lines from "Shine, Perishing Republic" by Robinson Jeffers:  "the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots to make earth. / Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances, ripeness and decadence; and home to the mother." And, of course, there's also the phrase I've quoted several times this year from Seamus Heaney's "The Grauballe Man" about "beauty and atrocity." Mother Earth continually creates life out of death, greenery from garbage. 

A whole history revealed...
Spring (with some help from City snow-removal equipment) took a big slice out of winter today, and in the places where the knife was sharpest, you can see the whole history of the last few months, the good and the bad, clearly revealed. I think of Third Quarter in the same way:  it shows everyone who you really are--who you are after you receive those college acceptance letters; who you are when you think you have no more responsibilities... 

Every year, I see the same thing happen:  senior grades drop, sometimes dramatically, during Third Quarter; then, most seniors get their act together and do better during Fourth Quarter. Sometimes, seniors have to slide quite a bit before they realize how much they're letting themselves (and others) down. 

Yet another bud on Queen Vic, just starting to open...
You still have time this year to determine how you will be remembered, to work on leaving a legacy you can be proud of, to limit the number of regrets you'll have someday when you look back on your senior year. If Third Quarter is revealing your weaknesses, you can still face them and work on them. It takes real courage to admit you've messed up and then declare that you'll do better. Morgan F did just that in a recent blog post. Now's the time to grow up and out of your own past, with all its mistakes and its low-points, and create from it something good and green.

No comments:

Post a Comment