This past weekend I had the chance to get out of the concrete jungle in favor of a little breathing space. NYC-dwellers, take note: a short trip on the Metro North is enough to transport you to a place so still and quiet that even taking that breath risks breaking the silence. But I took it anyway, lots of them, and the silence held up just fine. It is just becoming spring, the ice is still present -- and how dramatically present it is, farther north in the Hudson Valley! Great chunks of it, piled up in jagged drifts on the riverbanks. ("Glaciers," my traveling partner called them.) But the ice is cracking underfoot, the paths in the woods are muddy, the deep freeze is behind us as the sun stays around a little longer every day.
In the past spring has seemed absolutely improbable to me. The fact that light returns, buds grow again, grass and flowers peek out after so much cold and darkness... How can you possibly be sure? I ask the trees. How can you stand there so silently and know that the light and the warmth will return? And yet they do, and it does, without fail.
In our Type-A lives full of instant gratification, of striving to be and do the next great thing, of making it work and making it happen and making it big... it is good to take time, and notice the black river flowing all the time underneath the ice. To be reminded that the earth is turning and things are moving and changing within us, even when we don't notice and can't tell.
I remember a similar spring thaw day two years ago at this time, when I wrote in my journal:
(Not) coincidentally today is a thaw. I am having a walk home through the melty park, and it is again as though I too am melting, I see and know each drop of ice becoming water and flowing, dripping bit by bit into whatever it will be next. Evaporation? Perhaps, but we know that matter is neither created nor destroyed, simply mutating, affecting and reacting, becoming. And waiting. The trees are not ready yet, the buds are still within the branches. It's only February 1st, after all. But -- it is a start. The (homeless) man smiles, calls me goddess, likes my hair and thanks me for the blessings. The little ones are screaming down the hill on tiny bikes We are all thawing bit by bit by bit.
I love the thaw, and the quiet, and the taking time. After the flurry of New Years resolutions and goal-setting, before the light and the Coronas and the playtime energy of summer, comes the balance of the equinox and the step-by-step unfolding of spring. Instead of planning out our accomplishments or thinking up where we'd like to be next and what we'll get done this year, we can reflect and notice what is making its way to the surface of our lives without our help.
What is thawing out in you?