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The Dawn is Unfolding on Memory Lane
"The sun is but a morning star." Henry David Thoreau - Walden
With the coming of spring, disparate elements of my life coalesce in a blend of nostalgia, present pleasure and introspection. Along about this time of year, I revisit Walden and always find insights into my life. Fine writing is an art, and I think that along with Mark Twain, Thoreau is the best wordsmith that America has produced.
Poets rhapsodize about spring, but I've read that the suicide rate is higher then. The great poet T. S. Eliot started The Wasteland thusly: "April is the cruelest month." He said that living things lie dormant during the winter and then go through a painful process of coming to new life.
Memories come in color: Those of Christmas are red and green, gold and silver. Easter is a rainbow palette of the pastel dresses and fluffy white coats in which we shivered, white gloves, black patent leather shoes and the eggs that I dyed with Mother and later with Vicki.
During Mother's feast, my siblings always told the story of the chocolate rabbit that someone gave me during the Depression. Starved for candy, they thought, "Surely she'll give us a taste!" Instead, I dragged "Bun" around by its ribbon until it became grubby and finally disintegrated. Someone sent an e-mail of seasonal cartoons. In one of them a chocolate rabbit that's minus its tail says to another, "My butt hurts!" "What?" said the other one whose ears are gone.
I understand why elders make so many journeys down memory lane. The past requires little of one and one can snooze comfortably along, in a dormant state, protected by the distance created by time. The visions conjured up by my mind's eye and ear bear a patina of rose and gold and provide gentle pleasure, rather than the pain of growth and rebirth. Counselors warn against living in the past - but, oh, it's so pleasant there!
I'm watching to see if the dawn will be fine, as they often are at this time of year. As the song goes, the best things in life are free, and dawn watching ranks high on my list! The springtime light was lovely yesterday - clear and golden.
"For lo the winter is past … The time of singing birds is come." - The Song of Solomon
The cardinals have begun their springtime call - "Wheat, wheat, wheat! … chip, chip, chip, chip!" After I mentioned seeing hundreds of robins, Bill's niece, Candy, sent an e-mail, saying that huge flocks of robins congregate every spring and fall at her home.
Another wonderful sight is the autumnal "gathering" of sandhill cranes at the Jasper-Pulaski Conservation Area in northern Indiana. Friend Phyllis and we went there at dusk when an estimated 17,000 cranes flew in from surrounding cornfields to sleep on a large meadow.
Vicki called Saturday morning after her first night in a new home. There were deer and a wild turkey in the yard. "A slice of Heaven on Earth!" she wrote in an e-mail. I remember what it felt like when we bought our first home in the springtime of our lives.
Easter, the rising of the sun, The Song of Solomon and the goings and comings of the birds remind me that I, too, am a child of Nature and that my life is more than to-do lists. It, too, has its seasons and imperatives and is governed by forces beyond my control. Thoreau wrote that one should live consciously so that one does not come to die and realize that one has never lived. I must think more - really think - about each minute of my life and savor it to the last drop, to the last crumb.
“To him whose elastic and vigorous thought keeps pace with the sun, the day is a perpetual morning. Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me. To be awake is to be alive. We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake ... by an infinite expectation of the dawn which does not forsake us in our profoundest sleep.”-Thoreau
During the evening of my life, it would be so comfortable to slumber in the twilit shadowland of the past. No! I must resist dozing away whatever seasons remain to me even when it's painful to stay awake.
The dawn is unfolding … and it is lovely.
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