for the Sun
will wade out
my thighs are steeped in burning flowers
I will take the sun in my mouth
and leap into the ripe air
Spring makes it to upstate New York like a late-arriving dinner-party
guest. Just as you’ve decided this person’s social graces
suck, your guest arrives with flowers and a bottle of good
champagne and charms the pants off of everyone else at the
Spring is “icumen in,” to paraphrase the silly 13th-century
Now everybody will be digging in their gardens and going on
hikes up mountains and tramps through swamps. Fishing. Biking.
It disappoints me that I don’t like nature more than I actually
do. My friends—who politely keep their mouths shut—surely
see this as a flaw.
It isn’t really that I don’t like nature. I just have a little
trouble relating to it. Take animals. I’m not good at telling
one kind from another. I think that’s because we have so many
stuffed ones. The stuffed bunnies look like the stuffed puppies,
which look like the teddy bears, one of which looks sort of
like my grandmother who, when I was a little kid, always reminded
me of an elephant.
I like gardens, though I don’t like worms or snakes or slugs
and I don’t really like getting dirty and I can’t really tell
one plant from another, unless it’s a kind you can eat.
And I like nature walks, too. On the asphalt bike path.
Anyway, I’m going to try to work on this nature problem I
have. But in the meantime, spring is here and it is time,
even for those of us who are nature- challenged, to herald
One good way is with coats.
I have a muddy-brown coat, plaid-flannel lined, with big pockets.
It’s called a barn coat, though I got it at a J. Crew sale
and I doubt it’s ever been in a barn.
My friend Karen has the same coat (same J. Crew sale) and
when we go out someplace together I figure we look like Ashley
and Mary Kate Olsen in 20-odd years. But it doesn’t matter.
These are good coats. You can stuff the pockets with all kinds
of things: sale flyers from the Home Depot, a Diet Coke, unpaid
bills, an extra pair of socks (Karen is an oboist so who knows
what oboe-related things she may stuff in her pockets?) and
still have room for your hands, your house keys, your cell
phone and a lipstick.
There is no better way to face spring than in my brown coat,
unless it’s in my black one, a long duster that is lightweight
wool and essentially useless against the elements. Buttoned
up, it looks like one of those Matrix robes. So the
only really snappy way to wear it is unbuttoned, with a bright
scarf, while walking down the street in a spanking breeze
to some really good destination. Something that involves Hollandaise
sauce or potted tulips. You know, spring activities.
A lot of people think spring is garden time. I think of it
as hammock time. True, you have to wear a lot of layers and
bring a sleeping bag out with you when you sit in the hammock
in March. But you are, after all, in the hammock, which
must mean that citronella candles and grilled swordfish—with
or without Hollandaise—are just around the corner.
Many people think that spring is the time to hang those inflatable
Easter bunnies firmly by the neck from their budding crabapple
trees. Actually, hanging an Easter bunny by its neck seems
kind of passive-aggressive to me. So do wind chimes.
All that time spent tracking down blow-up bunnies is better
spent walking slowly through greenhouses, inhaling and exhaling
deeply. If you have a mantra, all the better. It’s greenhouse
pranayama. Stills the chatter in your brain and gives
you the illusion that you are in a garden. One you never have
to till or seed or feed or weed.
Finally we come to spring fever. The one thing that even the
nature-resistant among us can’t resist.
People talk about spring fever, but no one ever really defines
it. I figure it must be like having PMS without the symptoms
or being pregnant without the weight gain: You yield yourself
to forces beyond your control until such forces ease their
I know what it feels like to be in the grip of spring.
I know what it feels like to feel the sun on limbs too long
warmed by electric heat, gas heat, forced-air heat and to
know that now is the time to let skin meet the out-of-doors.
I know what it feels like to see the dull, brown bulbs breaking
ground with their fat green blades. Or to sit, transfixed,
while a lizard or a toad sucks placidly at the grail of air.
I know what it feels like to sit on a rock in glistening mud,
watching spring run-off swell and spill downstream and listening
to the wind in the trees, which moan like Keith Jarrett.
I know what it feels like to welcome that cheeky, flirty,
deplorably late dinner guest, Spring, who shows up with an
unapologetic smile and arms full of offerings. And you know
that the arrival was—inexplicably—worth the wait.
contact Jo Page at email@example.com