Beginnings and endings. Endings and beginnings. The new start every day brings. Alternate paths.
Walking through the Brooklyn Botanical Garden yesterday, I slowed my pace to better absorb my intake of Vitamin D. I worked out a cramp in my left hamstring. I tightened my scarf against winter’s last-ditch attempt to get under my skin. I circled the grounds two, maybe three times, splashing through rivers of snow-turned-water.
Looking around, there was not much to see. A few people read on benches, one man ate an ice cream with a friend, while others (like yours truly) walked amidst leafless trees and unbroken ground. There was a flash of green here and a splice of henna there, but for the most part the beauty of the gardens remained hidden underneath a layer of snow. The florae, still too cold to reach their arms out, were encased in the earth in the final stages of hibernation.
Hibernation or transformation? Ah yes, perception is everything.
Regardless of the garden’s not-quite-spring state I meandered along the paths to admire the crackle of buds on the trees and the casual wilt of deadened (kale) leaves. In the conservatories I made friends with nettlesome cacti and communed with weeping tropical plants. I also visited a family of bonsai trees being meticulously balanced out, branch-by-branch.
On my way out of the gardens I stopped for a few moments at a sewer grate. A wholly unsexy place (I mean, a sewer grate? I deserve the look of disdain you just shot my way) I came to a halt because something drew me there. I loved the sound the little river made and was struck by how clear the water ran. There was also something artistically poignant about a heap of dirt-flecked snow situated next to a downtrodden path–a notion that caused me to think about a series of strange and highly incongruent things like the ardor of transitioning, and of execrable heartache, and of putting one foot in front of the other as an exercise in letting go. As clear as the Ontario stream I used to paddle in my youth, the water chattered downhill and carried me along with it. As it flowed towards its end point it shifted along the way, picking up debris and also forking off on multiple paths to weave around rocks and leaves standing in its way. It did all these things without ever slowing down. On a mission, the melt cruised and forged a path.
It stayed on the move.
Watching the little fleuve heading towards its own guttered ocean I was reminded how the challenges we face are similar to the detritus in my little river’s path, and the way external factors have the capacity to turn us into blobs of hard-packed, dirty snow. However, in spite of the disappointments, each shortcoming, the pockets of loneliness and all other magnificent ruin, watching the snow turn into to water drove home the message that the seasons are in flux. It emphasized the simple, unchanging, point: spring always comes.
It comes because life is spinning and careening in its dizzying circularity. It barrels forward and rocks back but remains, forever, in motion. The pause between winter’s iced exhale and spring’s sharp intake of breath is meant to create a space where every frozen molecule of water can turn liquid again.