Taking Time for Spring

City Hall apple tree

A week of beautiful days in New York: spring sun, clear skies, vibrant tulips, blossoming trees, green bursting out everywhere.  I walked out of Whole Foods last night at the hour between the sun going down and the night coming on, turned east, and was overwhelmed by a sky of the most wonderful hue – a deep, saturated blue.

The blue was like a warm bath to eyes that spend too much time looking at white light from computer screens, words on glossy paper or newsprint, everything up close and filling my brain with news of things I can’t control and barely affect. Outside, above and around me, all this goes on: the natural world doing what it does, creating beauty whether we notice or not.

The blue is held in front of me between the red brick and cement-colored buildings, rising up in a column that spills over the top of the buildings, behind them, above them, the same intense color everywhere, solid yet translucent. There’s a bright star to the left of the condo building on Chambers and Broadway — no, too low, has to be a plane, hanging, waiting to land.  As I walk east, the blue starts to decay, gradually, like a dream you can’t quite hold onto as you wake up, the warmth of it, the tone of it that you want to hold onto forever and it slips away until you can’t remember what it was, who was in it, what they said, what you said, why it mattered.

This sky escapes me that way, changing by the second, dissolving into less blue, a graying to grayish blue, then blue-ish gray, then just gray, fading the way a tulip fades, the bright colors washing out with each day of sunshine, bleaching, fading, becoming translucent, softening, the crisp edges losing their starch.

City Hall tulipsThe tulips this week have reminded me of a day years ago, when I was heading out the door to the street, and a neighbor was walking out with her two black Scotties and her daughter, who must have been around fourteen and had suddenly become achingly beautiful — like those tulips in City Hall Park a week ago: full color, soft, exquisite, lush, breathtaking.

At fifty-five, I look back on that fullness, that soft-yet-taut ripeness, smoothness, shine, and color and realize how fleeting it is. And how beautiful because it is fleeting. I’ve become one of the ones who understand it in a way you can’t when you’re at that fleeting age – an admiration tinged with an ache.  Young writers in the past, poets, perhaps understood it younger, because people didn’t live as long, the ripeness didn’t last as long, youth didn’t last as long.

But despite all our exercising, vitamins, organic food, it still doesn’t last, not the real thing. Not that beauty of girls and boys on the cusp of things, of tulips in that week of glory, of the tree on the path behind City Hall with its deep pink buds, small and as solidly pigmented as a paint chip, opening up into blossoms with a pinpoint of deep rose at the center, a wash of soft pink at the base of the white petals, the petals covering the entire tree like a fluffy prom dress — open for spring, open to our eyes, for free, for nothing, because that’s what this tree does, is.  At the beginning of spring, after a long winter, a long cold spring, it opens just the same as it always has, for its brilliant, fleeting run.

When the breezes blow down the streets this week, you are caressed by petals — the pink petals of the cherry trees, the white petals of the Callery pears.  The edge of the street, next to the curbs, is lined with petals, ribbons of soft pink, like an art installation, like art thrown at your feet.  If you’re lucky, you have the time to look, to take it in, to say yes, I see you, and be thrilled about the world going on in spite of us all.

And that’s what I need to do: stop reading the New York Times, the Huffington Post, stop watching Brian Williams and Anderson Cooper, and see, instead, the tulips when they’re perfect, feel the petals touch my cheeks as I cross the street,  put the grocery bag down on the sidewalk, let everyone brush by me, and look up at the deep blue sky.

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24 Responses to Taking Time for Spring

  1. Wendibar says:

    “…that’s what a tree does, is.”

    You’ve stung me with the infectious barb of springtime in the city. Thank you, thank you for the intense feelings and snapshot – it is a beautiful “hurt”.

    • Thank YOU Wendibar, for reading. It really has been a fabulous, long spring here because of the cool weather, but we’re at the tail end and moving into summer.

  2. Judy Stillinger says:

    New York: Central Park, Bryant Park, the Highline, the pockets parks – they’re all magnificent as all of the trees and flowers are re-born and spring back to life . It’s achingly beautiful.
    Springtime here in the mountains is a week or two behind NY – so we get to experience
    it twice.

    Thanks for sending this – your comments are heartfelt and the photographs are
    beautiful.

  3. Thanks, Judy. I love that double spring effect — I’m looking forward to getting out there and having deja vu.

  4. novakfam@aol.com says:

    Beautifully contemplative….

    Reflective

    X

    Sent from Windows Mail

  5. shareen613 says:

    Gorgeous, Bird. Thank you, Yes. Stop and see and feel. You are the tulip, the breeze and the blue blue sky. Shareen

    Sent from my iPad

  6. George Ketigian Jr. says:

    Jenn, That was absolutely fantastic. Can’t tell you how much I enjoyed reading, and relating to, this piece. Thanks for sharing!!!

    See you soon, George

    George Ketigian, Jr. Vic-Armen Realty, LLC 516-849-3984

  7. Chris Sorce. says:

    Thanks for the thoughts. I recently read that watching the news is depressing us all. I think you are right, we should turn off the box and take a walk . Enjoy.

  8. karen walden says:

    Jen,
    You captured spring beautifully. It’s the same every year but every year it’s still a surprise and a magnificent gift not to be missed. Lovely how you see it.
    xo
    Karen

  9. Michael Ketigian says:

    Beautiful, captivating descriptions to help those of us at “that fleeting age” appreciate the myriad offerings of the present. Thank you for taking the time to share such a fundamentally important thought process.

    Here’s a relevant article on the insidious nature of news: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2013/apr/12/news-is-bad-rolf-dobelli. This is not to suggest that I don’t intake new information, but I try to filter it such that I’m ingesting stories relevant to my interests rather than every little thing humanity now has to worry about. The big enough stuff tends to present itself through word of mouth/fingers.

    • In Julia Cameron’s The Writer’s Way she suggests a periodic “media fast” — it’s amazing what it can do for your mind, and the amount of time it frees up. Dave and I refer to it as cutting down on input to increase output. Get rid of the noise so you can think more clearly.
      Good to hear from the “fleeting” bracket — and I loved your poem in Mad House.

  10. Shellie says:

    Thank you for reminding us to slow down, and do a better job of appreciating the natural beauty around us.

  11. Barbara Naydeck says:

    Simply beautiful… your lovely thoughts that surrendered to writing it down to share with us. Thank you!

  12. Jamie says:

    the bird has taken flight…you’re a real writer…xo

  13. Richard Brasington says:

    even more appreciated at my increasing age! Many thanks, and come and help us appreciate autumn!

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