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Flower days

I took my children biking, and a man walking a giant dog stepped to the side to avoid us -- the kids used to step aside to avoid dogs, but we are scarier than dogs now
New blooms in New England. (courtesy)

Spring is here.

I saw a bunny and a robin out my window today. And earlier, I saw our local turkeys walking by. The males aren’t quite ready for mating yet – their feathers are less than perfectly puffed, and their distinctive mating call doesn’t punctuate the morning silence.

But I know that they will be ready. They will be ready very soon.

Spring is here.

When I took my children biking yesterday, we passed under minuscule green leaves and tiny flower buds. A man walking a giant dog stepped to the side when he saw us coming; my kids used to step aside when they saw dogs, but we are scarier than dogs now.

We can carry the disease.

The birds are back, I told my kids last week, before our world turned and turned and contracted into smaller spaces. Today, while my toddler tried to join his siblings’  online classes in the living-cum-schooling-cum-office-room, I saw the birds stretching their wings out my window, and flying over eerie, empty streets.

They stretched their wings wide.

Spring is here.

The equinox is tomorrow. For one moment, our days and nights will be perfectly equal in length, perfectly balanced. In ancient times, many believed that balance is the perfect state. When all the elements of a government are balanced with each other, said Polybius, it’s a good and stable government. When all the humors of a person are balanced with each other, said the doctors, he’s a healthy man.

Balance makes things stable, they thought then. They saw wellness an island of stasis, a place that can last only if no imbalance intrudes.

But Hobbes rebelled, and believed that balance is unnatural and fleeting. Nature is a site of striving and conflict. We may dream of stasis, but it’s the dreaming and wanting — the constant becoming — that is our natural state.

We are hungry for more, for change, for improvement. It makes life unstable, but that’s what life is.

After tomorrow, our days will grow longer and topple us, once more, into a state of imbalance. Buds will explode into bloom and into color. The male turkeys will puff their feathers and call out in their search for a mate. Later, poults will stumble down our street with their mothers. For all we know, the streets they’ll walk through will be empty still.

Spring is here, and it is a time of becoming.

Trees strive to make flowers. Birds strive to build nests.

We’re striving too, though mostly indoors.

Flowers and nests are but fleeting constructions. They’re merely a stage in the creation of life. They’re the cocoon that life sheds once it achieves newer stages. But even come summer, I will think that they’re beautiful. Even discarded, they will bear silent testimony: nature, they’ll tell us, craves more and more life.

Spring is here, and we, too, are changing and changing. Our stasis is broken, and no one is safe. We dwell in imbalance, in a new instability. We scramble to create a new, stable normalcy, we pray for the healing that comes with routines.

But Hobbes was right: there’s an aliveness in our scrambling. Becoming is painful but it’s beautiful, too. When we will look back to these days, come health or come summer, may we see them as more than the collapse of old wellness. May they remind us of striving, and of wanting to live.

Spring is here, and it’s a time of becoming. What we will become is at this moment unknown. But it will stem from what we do in these days of imbalance, these days that are flowers, and nests, and cocoons.

About the Author
Rachel is a Jerusalem-born writer and speaker who's in love with her city's vibrant human scene. She writes about Judaism, parenting and life in Israel for the Times of Israel and Kveller, and explores storytelling in the bible as a teacher and on 929.
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