“Spring forward, fall back down…”
I know, I know: it couldn’t be much more wintry in New England.
It’s a balmy -6 degrees, enhanced by an order of magnitude for those who dally with windchill. Boston had its highest recorded tide, sweeping an icy gray lagoon into waterfront streets.
My big boy beagle gazes at me with recrimination when I am compelled to turn around and whisk him back toward home. He clearly has places to be, but unknowingly relies upon my limited capacity to exhibit adult common sense. My less than-scientific measure of when I have ventured half as far as we safely can go is the loss of sensation in triple-gloved hands. The outermost layer belonged to Jim: enormous blue-green knitted wool gloves into which Rufus still pauses to press his snow-dusted nose, retrieving scents of his puppyhood. I am violently allergic to wool. Angry winter welts encircle my right wrist, which one over-sized glove accidentally touched as I struggled to shovel a path through blizzard remnants.
Even my camera is too cold to do its job. I dare not risk its delicate inner mechanisms’ life for a picture–even of wavering sea-smoke etched in bright gold across the horizon, or planes of dazzling white which migrate across eye-level snowdrifts, or tree branches encased in ice glittering under a super moon.
Other than at sunrise and sunset, which in winter tend to take place during work days, when they rarely can both be seen, bright color has disappeared from the landscape. It may visit in the form of a scarlet cardinal or blue jay, or a burst of berries holding fast for them to find.
But this lyric spanning the other seasons has taken its place as resident ear-worm.
I first heard the Weakerthans’ song on the radio while driving back from a solo trip to Bar Harbor.
My city’s still breathing (but barely, it’s true)
Through buildings gone missing like teeth
The sidewalks are watching me think about you,
Sparkled with broken glass
I’m back with scars to show.
Back with the streets I know
Will never take me anywhere but here
My status could be the answer to a riddle: I occupy a new old home in my old home state, having left our old old home in a new home state.
But I am back with streets I know. In a place I never before lived, I feel I am back home.
Wait for the year to drown
Spring forward, fall back down
I’m trying not to wonder where you are
One daughter came to my new old home for Christmas, bearing a discrete tattoo she explained to me is based on Slaughterhouse Five.
Spring forward, fall back. I realized it’s not just a handy trick to set clocks to mark time in the seasons that bookend winter’s essence, but a Tralfamadorian progression through life–including waxing and waning grief and hope. A (Billy) Pilgrim’s progress, if you will (HT Mr. Vonnegut).
I shall try to seize on those glimmers, bright traces which foretell spring or commemorate fall, even when blanketed by colorlessness–the orange fish which glided underneath inches of pond ice as we skated at the old home we shared, the leaf whose lime stem tilted toward the sun as if it still could absorb light when my beagle’s front paw sank ever-so-slightly into a frozen puddle’s surface, leaving in uneven colonial bricks’ lacuna a ghostly misshapen cameo, a reminder of our presence there made possible by a New England winter.