Thursday, February 11, 2010

It's That Time of Year Again

It's that time of year again. I mean the time when it's still freezing cold outside but the crocuses are starting to poke their colorful little heads up through the frigid earth beneath the crabapple tree. The birds chatter excitedly as they pluck the last crabapples off the aforementioned tree, a favorite stop on their way back to their northern summer grounds. (Yes, this really is a photo of our ornamental crabapple tree at this time of year - no leaves but still plenty of fruit for little birdie snacks.)

I spend whole days at a time planning my garden, deciding which veggie will go in which plot, when I need to plant them, which seeds I need to buy and which I still have saved from previous years. And according to my family, I become annoyingly bouncy and cheerful and plaster way too much insipid cuteness all over the house (baby kittens peeking out of overall pockets, anyone?).

What is it about the tender reappearance of life out the quasi-death of winter that turns otherwise normal (give me the benefit of the doubt, OK?), responsible adults into fizzy-headed, giggling schoolchildren who skip around humming happy songs? I mean, this is the 21st century. We know that the world isn't going to end in winter. We know spring is coming every year, like clockwork. What gives?

Maybe it's just instinct. Sure, we carefully condition the air in our homes and cars so we can't tell whether it's winter or summer until we step outside. We use electric lights so we can't tell what time of day or night it is without looking at a clock or out a window. We cover our windows at night and ignore the changing moon (can you tell me how many days away from new or full we are today?). We take advantage of every imaginable kind of modern technology to obliterate the cycles of day, month and year - to pretend that everything is the same all the time. But it isn't, and something deep within each of us still knows that.

Sure, we can tell the change of seasons these days pretty easily by the changing displays of consumer goods in our local mega-marts: first pool toys, then Uncle Sam hats and sparklers, school supplies, purple glitter cats in witchy hats, then plush reindeer with ornaments hanging from their antlers, followed by the current display of chocolates in red heart-shaped boxes and greeting cards with lewd jokes in them. In a few more days the shelves will be stocked with multi-colored plastic eggs and wind-up walking chicks. I stand in those aisles, staring at the overwhelming display of 'seasonal goods' and wonder, "Isn't there something more?"

Of course there is.

No matter how hard we try, we can't extinguish the tug of the cycles on our bodies, our psyches, our innermost being. Close the curtains, turn up the air conditioner, turn on another light, it doesn't matter. Like it or not (and I happen to like it), we're all inextricably linked with those cycles. We're a part of the system, not apart from it. Call it Gaia, quote Ecclesiastes (to every thing there is a season...), however you want to frame it, you can't deny it.

So every summer I'll laze around, feeling luscious. Every autumn I'll become energized in an almost desperate way. Every winter I'll go a little quiet and soft. And every spring I'll stick pastel fairies and cute little kittens all over the house.