Snow drifts in cartoonish swirls down the asphalt of my sleepy lane; in the same billowy breath, the muddy make of melted storms leaves the bank of the creek in my backyard glistening with manure-y dunes. I hear the ethereal wind instruments of spring, lilting in a too-soon summer song. And through all of this, with wandering steps and slow, leads unfailing fool Truth: It is the season of the un-season.
By rights, I am attached to the definitions of humanity. I cull description and boundary. However much I vaunt my open-mindedness, it recoils in an instant when I recall that I cling to names. A leaf. A brook. Wind. Winter. Spring. For without a name, to us, things are no things at all.
Which is most likely why the calm uncertainty of this state of in between causes me distress. This is not winter, and it is not spring. And if I were to call it spring-winter or winter-spring, what would anyone know of it? But if I say the creek babbles in idle chatter while my boots trudge through snow banks, nobody would call me mad. Perhaps there should be more than four seasons, and perhaps we should make it known.
At the moment, however, there is only the turmoil of Nature’s limbo: we are not this and we are not that. And in not knowing, I am dreadfully depressed. When it is winter—when the skies stretch limb to limb with gray and pocked canvases of white cover every scene; when my hands curl up, glowing red and wrinkled from the cold; when schools shut their doors and fireplaces roar—then I can nestle into comfort. I know I am who I am in a season that is. And I know what to do with it.
Or when it is spring—when the flowers dust off their piercing yellows and creatures of earth and sky put away their yawns—then I can resurrect the poetry of resurrection and the culture of newness that pervades every winding stream, every nascent forest, every blue-patched sky. I can reach my bare hands to the sky and feel them bask in the sun’s warmth.
But what do I do when my hands still curl and the brook unleashes her diatribes? Or when snow prances down a road sided with buds of newly-minted blossoms flowering and grown? It is the time of the year that is paradoxical, ironic, juxtaposed with itself. And as one desperately limited and caged creature in that world, I shut up my mind and turn inward. I pretend away existence for the preference of my own self-indulgent fantasies. I live in a Norman Rockwell painting.
Writers should rejoice in these oddities—after all, every unique thing holds the makings of a muse. And yet, for me there is no luscious narrative, no creeping sadness, no rounded swell of life that holds its reason and explanation. It is enough for me to say: “You do not make sense, Mother.” And then, off to what distracts me.
Though I am still free in some respects, and altered by ideas not my own. And so, if spirits move about within us—and within the odd and temporal world—let them come and work a day on me. Perhaps an hour is all the more I’ll need, but I’m not confident. And it may be that when I have finally found a wintry stone on which to lay my head beneath a springtime sun while smiling, Mother will have changed on us again, and I will be forced to write of old and stale seasons.