Walking to my office today, the day tending to warm, the earth thawing into mud, I kept thinking, this is my first spring in Canada in a long time. I felt this very deeply, even as I asked myself how that could be true; I’ve been back to living in Canada since January 2015. Surely it’s my third spring here in a row?
But last year at this time I was in Orlando; the year before that I spent most of April in Scotland, in agonies over how long it would take to bring my fiancé to Canada; in both cases I was drowning in work, commutes, transnational and transatlantic travel.
This year… I step outside, and the feeling of bare sidewalk under my shoes spells spring. I keep taking photos of glistening mud, soggy grasses, pebbles escaping the ice.
I have to ask myself in part if it’s having stepped outside of social media’s frenzy — having made space in my mind for noticing slow, deep change. I’m still far too busy — huge academic deadlines on April 1 and May 1 on top of teaching two courses, an important grant application deadline on April 19, to name a few — but I’ve felt myself present, I’ve felt myself in possession of agency enough to do my work. The curse of social media for me in this climate is a feeling of being reduced to passive, helpless horror minute on minute, unable to see my own life as something I can affect. But I can, and I do, and I will.
This weekend, with the help of my mighty brother-in-law, Stu and I reconfigured two rooms in our apartment in a way I had been longing for and dreading in equal measure for months. We hired a truck, picked up a new bed, moved the old bed into the office, assembled the new bed in spite of lacking instructions and and a few screws. There’s a lot of work yet to make the office into a welcoming space for guests, but the bones are there.
I look at that list of things we did and marvel at the change they’ve wrought in me — as if moving furniture dislodged something stuck in my head and chest, made it easier to breathe. It seems so simple. It was hard work — we sweated and grunted and got very hungry. But we did it, and it’s done, and now there’s work I look forward to, like hanging art on walls and deep-cleaning every room and buying new bedclothes.
This, too, feels of a piece with spring: obstacles dissolving, snowmelt carving furrows through ice and cold earth, breaking new paths, finding new ways to move. This space between freezing and budding, when the light stays long enough to see you home, when the air tastes good enough to drink — it’s more precious to me than I can say.
Happy Vernal Equinox, everyone. I hope it brings you good, joyful, nourishing things.
But don’t skip leg day.