Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Dance of February
Today is all glitter and sunlight and blue shadows. Swells of the sheerest intimation of winter transition quivers in my bones; a tune that teases memory but can’t quite find the words.
After waving goodbye to my parents, who have been visiting for the past week, I hasten to go for a walk. There are melting pools of snow everywhere as the temperature soars to 8 degrees above zero. For the first time in months my body feels an inkling of spring. It registers in my legs, my brain, my heart.
The snow has separated into bone-shaped islands. Blonde grasses peek out everywhere. I stop and eat my apple on a small bridge while looking out at the thawing skin of the river. I knew I was weary of the winter crust on my world, but I hadn't realized quite how much until I feel the glad leap in my heart.
On my way home, I run into my neighbour out walking with her two little ones. B, aged three, scampers ahead, stamping his little boots, mittened hands pawing the thinning snow for treasure. Not having seen her close-up since the autumn, I am astonished at how big baby L has grown. Fat, dimpled, pink-cheeked, she grins at me, revealing two perfect pearly teeth. I issue an impromptu invitation for lunch, and am accepted.
We unwind scarves, remove snowsuits, undo boots. I pass the baby to her mother, a soft, plump burden of love, and then seek out the box full of little toy cars for her brother. I bring out, too, the big Noah's Ark with all the animals. Ben finds this fascinating. Soon giraffes and lions, sheep and elephants, jostle for position in the ark alongside myriad little cars. Baby L gums and drools on a sculpted plastic camel.
I chat with their mother as I add a mixture of sauteed scallions, dried apricots, roughly chopped almonds, and a diced Granny Smith apple to rice cooked in chicken broth. B would prefer a grilled cheese sandwich, and this I prepare as I sear scallops in garlic butter to serve with the rice.
My neighbour comments on a garden plaque resting on the Welsh dresser. It reads 'My Secret Garden'. This I bought the other day because it called to me, partly because The Secret Garden was one of my favourite books as a child, and partly, because I think each of us possesses a secret garden of self which just needs the right conditions to unfurl. We all need light and warmth and watering tears and tender hands. Once the snow disappears completely, I will place the plaque outside.
As we eat and laugh and sip tea and savour the antics of the children, a wave of feeling rushes over me. The dance of February; slowly releasing the soil, stretching the spiralling buds ... thwarting the breath of winter, not just in nature, but in we human beings, too.