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.
–Robert Frost, “Two Tramps in Mud Time”
Spring can be fickle, but I have to admit, it never fails to make me feel younger. At my age, let me tell you, that is a g-o-o-o-o-d feeling! Years do not disappear, and my aches and pains may still talk to me, but the onset of spring and the stirrings and evidence of new life balm and massage my spirit. My feelings may be all about winter weariness, but I know what happens in my thinking these days is not that simple.
Snow melts; time disappears. But aging does not.
Spring is a recurring metaphor about life’s meaning. Like any metaphor, it can say only so much. But what it says to me, despite an occasional cloud or a wind “off a frozen peak,” is enough to perk my hopes for the time remaining. New life happens.
Growing up, I never counted my springs the way I do now. They came and went and danced me into wonderful summers I never counted either. Time just was not an issue back then. There was always plenty of it. Besides, I had my birthday every September (like clockwork) to tell me life was good and I was growing.
Back then, time and life kept me too busy to notice. Not so, now. But spring has a way of tempering that.
Perhaps I can blame it on my seminary days. I had a friend, a classmate who loved the colors and crispness of fall. The seminary sat on the shore of Lake Erie in western Pennsylvania. Fall was always enchanting there. But because I dreaded the onset of winter, I argued with him that autumn was all about dying; that was why I loved the spring.
“Spring is mud,” he would say. “It’s fog and rain and misery. And it’s endless. Fall always moves quickly into winter … and Christmas.” He would add the last bit to corner me.
“But spring is new life, warm sun, blossoms and baseball,” I would counter, then add, “… and Easter!”
“But that comes after Lent,” he would say, like he was slamming a door, then walk away, feeling, I was certain, that he had won the argument.
We tangled like that at least once a year but I stuck to my feelings. Spring and new life always went together; fall and dying likewise.
More than 50 years later, I am grateful to say, spring is still doing its thing on me.