Tuesday, March 08, 2005Schpring
It's a truly revolting day here in southern Vermont. The stuff that's falling out of the sky is, technically speaking, snow, but only barely. No need to collectively make a mud slurpee today; this stuff is falling from the heavens already-slurped. The standing water is thick and slimy -- I dunno if you've ever seen water that's hovering right at the freezing point, not yet quite ready to crystallize entirely but also not 100% liquid, but it's strange stuff. Puddles in this state don't splash, the make more of a "blurping" motion. I think you know what I mean.
But this is all still good news; it's further evidence that the season is slowly -- painfully slowly -- creeping towards spring. We had our first preview yesterday; the sun was out, and it was warm enough (if you've been walking around in 0°F for the last two months, anyway, it's a relative thing) to go out without a sweater or jacket or anything. The first contact of sunlight on skin is a blissful occasion that can't be readily comprehended unless you've spent an oppressive amount of time shielding every possible inch of bare flesh from the wet and cold. It's a giddy kind of joy that makes you want to find an empty field and run around in circles screaming your fool head off; it makes you want to grab the nearest attractive person of the opposite or otherwise-preferred sex, drag 'em off into the woods, and... well, yes.
Anyhoo, the point is, while we still have some snow and muck and cold to get through (snow season is coming to an end, but ice season is fast approaching, followed directly by mud season), the end is in sight.
Dave has said that he thinks the arc of the southern hemisphere year -- with New Year's coming in midsummer -- makes more sense. I can't find a quote on his blog, but to paraphrase, he prefers the idea that the year begins in light, sinking down into cold and darkness in the middle to emerge again at the end. (I'm sure he'll confirm or correct that whenever he comes by again.) And I do understand what he means; it's an intriguing subversion of ancient assumptions, and has some value in that it provides an alternate context coming from a place where the arbitrarily-dominant traditions have less relevance. But I think I still disagree. The fact that the year begins and ends in winter has too much resonance with other ideas of timekeeping. Every day, for example, begins and ends in the darkness of the night; the lunar cycle begins and ends with the dark new moon; and both conventions feel closely related to a human lifespan which also, in a manner of speaking, begins and ends in darkness, arcing out into the corporeal world inbetween. If that's the underlying archetype, then the idea that the day/month/year begins at the darkest point makes perfect sense.
And there's a nest of birds above my bedroom window that make the strangest sounds I've ever heard come from a bird. Sometimes they just twitter, but now and then -- usually in the evenings -- the break into something that sounds like a cross between a seagull and a hawk. I haven't gotten a look at them yet... anybody have any ideas? |