An Over-rated Season
I bead Sbrig (Yes, I mean Spring). Ad yes, by dose
is blogged (And yes my nose is blocked). Oh! For heaven's
sake, I can't provide a running translation. What's so difficult
about understanding my cold-congested language? Healthy people
are so irritating when you are ill! Cough! Achoo! Yes, I am
sick and cranky and it's all the fault of this treacherous season.
You can sing your paeans to spring, but I shall withhold my
praises for I know where it gets its name from: springing
unpleasant surprises, allergies, infections and viruses on unwary
in Italy where seasons are neatly demarcated, spring is the
tricky one, chirpy and bright as a summer's day one moment and
blubbering with rain and cold as winter the next. Robert Frost
put it well: "The sun was warm but the wind was chill./You
know how it is with an April day/When the sun is out and the
wind is still,/You're one month on in the middle of May./But
if you so much as dare to speak,/A cloud comes over the sunlit
arch,/A wind comes off a frozen peak,/And you're two months
back in the middle of March." On just such a capricious
April day, you forget your coat and rush out to embrace it,
and suffer the consequences. After two decades of reading Frost
and living in Europe, I am as clueless about the vagaries of
spring as ever.
relentlessly about spring as the harbinger of life and regeneration
but never wax eloquent about it as a health hazard. Just two
weeks ago I myself was quite embarrassingly rapturous during
my (coatless) morning walk and gazed with luminous eyes at the
green buds prickling the dry branches of trees, the hedges sprouting
tender new leaves and the tulips and lilacs blooming overnight.
I came home with a spring in my step and a poem in my heart;
at the same time, unbeknownst to me, I also brought home with
me the seeds of an allergy, to pollen perhaps, and a flu virus
in my unsuspecting system. The next day I was down with fever.
When T.S.Eliot called April 'the cruellest month' he must have
been full of antihistamines and analgesics like me.
and lovers, keep your romantic assignation with flighty young
spring; just give me a mature and stable season that knows its
mind and can be my friend. Give me a robust summer's day any
time. At least summer doesn't lead you up the garden path, create
illusions about a pristine paradisiacal world and them ambush
you with invisible germs and infections. You know the discomforts
of summer-- the heat, sweat and flies--and are ready for it.
Winter, too, in its brutal honesty lets you know the hardy truth
about itself. You are prepared. But frivolous spring flirts
and seduces with its heady sweetness, makes airy promises about
joy and fresh beginnings yet often brings in its wake disease
and false starts. In Italy no one plants their garden until
the season has settled into early May, and neither do they put
away their coats, sweaters and stockings till then.
is equated with newborn life, youth has often been compared
to this season. This is a facile and simplistic simile at one
level, but true at a deeper level. I once read a collection
of short stories for young adults called 'An Over Praised Season.'
It referred to adolescence as that season of life, which, like
spring, is more often idealized by the romantically inclined
and not seen as a time of awkwardness and adjustments; acne
and puppy fat; self-doubts and growing pains; first love and
heartbreaks; dreams and disillusions; in other words, a tough
transition point into adulthood.
around and found that many adults looking back on their teens
and twenties agreed that they were quite relieved when spring
passed out of their life. Most well-adjusted and confident middle-aged
people felt that they had wrested their subsequent poise and
sense of self through the rites of passage of the turbulent,
youthful years, but would not like to revisit that period.
as in nature so in life, spring is neither easy nor to be trusted.
It is a picture window from which to contemplate the promise
of beauty and life. It is a time to dream and hope and prepare
and wait while being wary and wise. Naturally the young are
not meant to, nor will follow this advice. Spring as a season
and a stage in life beckons youth to stand on the springboard
and take the plunge into the awakening world, whatever be the
consequence, whatever the mistakes, whatever the eventual lessons.
Even I am still learning, and I ain't no spring chicken! Since
I cannot stop myself from falling in love with life each spring,
next year, I will protect myself at least against the health
dangers of this capricious season: I'll take allergy and anti-flu
shots and keep my stockings on. As they say, if you can't be
good, be careful.
But to stick
to the image of seasons as metaphors for stages of life, I am
happiest out of spring and in the summer of my flowering. I
am more comfortable with who I am and like myself better now.
This is my preferred season of life, where my body, mind and
spirit are in harmony. I hope in terms of creativity and personal
growth, it will be a long and fecund summer. When autumn knocks
on my body's door, I hope at least my mind and spirit will ignore
this transitional season for as long as they can and go directly
into the winter of life still warm from summer. (Hmmm…..this
must be a side effect of the medication I'm on, this going off
on metaphoric and philosophical tangents! Bear with me!)
sense of time is about timelessness; I reject the idea of life
or of aging dictated by numerical calendars (1411 or 2004 are
irrelevant to body and mind), accepting only the natural rhythms
and wisdoms of seasonal transformations as they unfold in my
physical and spiritual experiences.
as my nose slowly unblocks and I smell the crisp new air on
my first walk outdoors after my recovery, my heart lifts to
see the flowers, and hear the chirping birds, but I am still
wary. Spring is an inspiring season but too evanescent, restless
and unreliable to be my internal season. I prefer the solid
certainty of a season I can trust and live with. It arrives
everyday as I grow into this phase, where growth, creativity,
ripeness (euphemism for aging!) and regeneration are balanced
by peace, inner beauty, continuity and a sense of rooted-ness
in the essential truths of nature. About this my ideal season
Oliver Wendel Holmes said: "For him in vain the envious
seasons roll/ Who bears eternal summer in his soul."
moment, if I can just get rid of this eternal sniffle in my
nose. Pass the tissues. Achoo!