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Spring Advances

The foot of spring

The foot of spring

Easter Sunday brings full sun and a full-bodied warmth long out of mind but not forgotten: a solid liquor of warmth wholly unlike central heat or the warm side of a fire. This is the heat that makes apples and hurricanes, pushes off the brimming momentum of everything green. Dandelions have been braving the murky cool for a month now, their indomitable heads lifting toward the grey. Today they strive for sun. Suburbanites recoil at the sight and reach for poison. What monster would deny dandelions?

The undeniable fact

The undeniable fact

I love dandelions as much as any kindergartner, as much as that lion on my kindergarten class poster who smiled a big yellow smile as he held dozens in his cartoon paws. The little wild daisies I remember from Ontario childhood, up early with the dandelions, so white they were almost blue in the sunlight deluge. They are soft and new and when I stand on them I can feel the softness, the energy of their growing. My feet sink into the ground not just because it is soggy but because all the plants are soft with life.

I’ve walked to the park that abuts the elementary school near my house. The freeway is just down the steep hill, but from up here you can only see mountains, sky, and the waves of flowering weeds.

A kid's dream park

A kid's dream park

Trees are sleeping still, at least on Sunday. Walking through the burgeoning grass it’s as if I can feel their roots stirring, gripping outward, feeling the warmth work down through the soil. The part of trees we see are shells, really, empty glasses waiting to be filled from the roots where life has retreated to. It sleeps deeply during winter, impossible to feel in the dark rain. Now, walking over them, I can feel them stir.

I walk through the park. A chunky Hispanic guy tosses a baseball at his young kid. No, you have to follow the ball, get under it. You reach, eh? Don’t grab, reach and close on it. The kid is slight but listens, complains about something, accepts fatherly direction. In the stands, the mother watches from behind dark glasses. They are the broad kind back in fashion and obscure most of her face. She is thin, with long dark hair, and jeans tight as pencils. I look at her without looking at her. Nobody is looking at me.

Two benches lie at the park’s western lip, at the hill’s edge. The view is obscured by an ancient, rusting chainlink fence, but not much. Beneath the mowed hill the highway roars, the cars still with snow tires zippering along. I sit on the bench and am warm, glad to have worn shorts the first time this year, looking out on the Olympics backlit from the sun and high cloud swirls. Spring light lifts everything out of flatness but doesn’t hawk or oversell, its brightness tentative but promising. It’s hard to describe, really–it isn’t double winter’s of half of summer’s light. Everybody likes it, talks about it, bares more of themselves to it.

Sitting on the bench I let myself be warmed. My mind races on nothing in particular the way minds always race. I was trying to finish the post about B but was drifting, pushing to finish but taking longer to go nowhere. I saw the sun and decided to walk because that’s what the smart money does in Seattle. Sitting, I realize this was a letting go. Pushing on and harder is asymptotic. After you get tired, you can push infinitely hard and never quite get there. My mind still rattles on but in the fashion of needing to be entertained. It’s not at all like Monkey, that chattering brittle preoccupation with right and wrong and lack. There are things I could be doing but I’m sitting on a bench enjoying the sunshine like an old guy. There is no harm in it, and not even stillness, not really, with everything growing all around. It is a new feeling, or maybe one I barely remember: the sheer pleasure of idle pause, without judgment or worry.

I call my parents and leave a message, close my eyes and follow that first meditation class. If you notice your mind has drifted, notice this, and bring it back. Don’t expend any effort analyzing why you drifted or what the thoughts were. Just go back. That’s all. I am not very successful at meditating, in the way the forty-year master says he is not very good at meditating. But I am pretty good at sitting in the sun and not worrying about it.

That’s what dandelions must be for, the color and their raw growing and their softness: a thing that defies worry, domination, failure. Sun makes them brighter but they are bright anyway. They made a deal with you before you were born: don’t worry about them, and they won’t worry about you.

Play

Play

Dogwalkers and old guys with headphone radios in jogging suits pass me as I walk back, politely acknowledging or passing in silence. A lady’s dogs are friendly, all tooth and tongue smiles. Families at picnic tables are dressed for a casual Easter, the men walking half-heartedly through the grass dropping plastic eggs retrieved by bobbling toddlers. The sun has made things come alive. The people have risen with the flowers.

Refreshed, I finish the post about B. I feel tired but not as deeply as before. The fatigue is there but a lightness too. Spring, which is all about the coming new, also finishes things. The dandelions are always there but each year they are new.

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