The arrival of Spring catches me off guard. As the planet tips the hemisphere where I live to equal night and day, I have forgotten its quickening. These long months in lockdown have me subdued. I’ve kept myself flattened for so long that I’ve forgotten what deep full breathing feels like. Scarcity is a second skin. One I wear far too easily. More difficult is to let it slough away.
Today I realized the discipline of withholding has come at the expense of my normally unruly self. By this time of year, my body naturally crows for change. Even while spring snows continue to bury the mountain, I naturally sense the change of season in my limbs, eager for release. I feel the stirring of seeds inside.
This year, I haven’t given more than a passing thought to the return of longer days and to the season of thaw. The light at the end of the pandemic tunnel is visible, but an insistent whisper tells me there’s still a ways to go. That survivor part of me is honed to hang on, to not get too excited yet. My body feels shackled. All I can do is to keep holding my breath.
I am certain I am not alone in fearing that my wild self has been flattened by having to be so careful for so long. There’s a cost for carrying the expedition-level weight of isolation and distance for twelve long months. Leaving the house feels like a space mission, where armed with PPE and hand-sanitizer both in my car and on my person, I enter the world seldom and in a perfect bubble. I’ve gotten so used to the invisible zone around me that I worry what it will take to let others get near me.
I fret about the long road back to the one who hugs and touches easily, the one who never puts her meat in a plastic bag, the one who always laughed at people who used hand sanitizer. But all of that is in some unknown future and thinking about it stops me dead in my tracks.
I lost everything to a cabin fire 17 years ago this March and then ten years later, watched my community reconfigured by a 1000-year flood event, and the one thing I’ve learned after such cataclysms is there is no going back. We’ve crossed over into new territory and while I’m hopeful that COVID will be an opportunity for big, positive change in our lives, the only certainty is that there will be change.
I don’t know what I will take from the wreckage of this year in which I’ve written in spurts and starts and struggled at times to focus, but also have had the opportunities to meet so many students via ZOOM (from as far away as Saudi Arabia), but perhaps the Spring Equinox is just the day to rest in the perfect balance of the moment, in equal day and night, and simply contemplate nothing but the day ahead.