Cooperstown Crier - Your Source for Hometown News - Cooperstown, Baseball Hall of Fame

Hawthorn Hill

May 18, 2012

Up On Hawthorn Hill: Spring inventions

The second line of Lawrence Durrell’s novel “Justine” reads as follows: “In the midst of winter you can feel the inventions of Spring.” I first read all four novels of his magnificent Alexandria Quartet during the year I traveled from Saigon to Paris after working in Vietnam for a refugee organization for several years.

Few works of fiction have had the enduring impact on my life as these novels have, so it was with a great deal of anticipation that I started re-reading the quartet a few weeks ago. I have not been disappointed. In fact, this rereading has been every bit as profoundly moving as was the case forty years ago. Now that I am quite a bit older I expect that I will appreciate each novel’s provocative insights into the human condition even more acutely. But, for now I want to concentrate on the narrator’s observations about spring’s inventiveness, something that has been on my mind ever since winter saw fit to start easing on out of our lives for a while.

Once winter starts giving up the ghost, which it does in fits and starts, some sort of internal transition mechanism stirs within us and we too begin shifting gears. If you are like me, you feel a rather insistent internal restlessness that can only be assuaged when spring asserts itself and gets in the swing of its eternal rhythms once again. The feelings of hope and rejuvenation that we feel are part and parcel of the reassuring predictability that nature affords us.

Once spring’s rains green the earth up a bit, accompanied by longer and warmer days, we can start keeping an eye out for the myriad inventions that spring dazzles us with year after year after year.

While some disparage predictability, I see it as among life’s most comforting gifts. We do not want every aspect of our daily lives to be predictable, but some degree of certainty about things buoys us for those existential surprises that might otherwise upend us. Existential anarchy is a tasty abstraction that undermines creativity and, to a certain extent, freedom.

Among spring’s inventions that energize me the most are  bluebirds, tree swallows, andgeese. Until they return it is impossible for me to experience genuine spring thoughts or feelings. Nature is the primary inventor of all things, so I see my avian friends as part of an infinite sub-set of phenomena that are part of a cosmic package of boundless energy and variety.

The heat wave of a few weeks ago, followed by a week or so of nightly freeze and frost warnings, certainly put the kibosh on things, but such erratic behavior is as predictable, and as exasperating, as any other of nature’s quirky shenanigans. The warm weather of the last several days has given birth to the early spring patterns up here on the hill that provide us with feelings of joy and hope. Don and Dora, the pair of geese that have raised their young just down the road from us returned a short time ago and are busy nesting and readying themselves for that most rewarding of all gigs, raising their young. As is the case every early spring, the bluebirds check us out for a few days, disappear, and then return just about the time every year I have started to give up hope. As I write, a pair of bluebirds is defending their accustomed nest box from the tree swallows that have taken up residence in the two boxes closest to the house. As is the case on our world, location is everything. Neither tree swallows nor bluebirds need worry themselves over affordable housing or plunging home prices. We provide more than adequate lodging, which we are happy to do because the return on such a modest investment is a summer of joy whose value is of incalculable worth. The allure of nature’s eternal patterns is that they are always the same and yet different.

We ignore nature’s health and well being at our peril. Its inventiveness is the key to living sustainable lives.

MORE OF RICHARD DEROSA’S writing can be seen at his blog: rjderosa. com. Comments are welcome.

Text Only
Hawthorn Hill
  • A farewell essay More years ago than I care to contemplate, I very sheepishly sent a column in fully expecting it would be rejected. Lo and behold, it appeared shortly thereafter and for almost twenty years now I have have written these bi-weekly columns, first under the heading of "The Timely Writer" for The Freemans Journal and, for the last several years as "Up on Hawthorn Hill" with the Cooperstown Crier.

    July 17, 2014

  • Writing in the age of ad hominisms This past week several readers of these columns have asked about my absence of late. The honest answer is that there are times when the well runs a bit dry and one’s enthusiasm for forcing words on to the page wanes.

    June 26, 2014

  • Robinson novels show grace, intelligence I have been reading the novels of Marilynne Robinson the past several weeks. She writes with such grace and intelligence that I find myself rereading sections several times over to savor their exquisite taste and, in some instances, to make sure I have grasped the meaning of what she has written.

    May 1, 2014

  • Giving aid to Cornell at my window For quite a few years now I have participated in Cornell's Project Feeder Watch.

    April 10, 2014

  • Birder admits he confuses non-birding world I often run into people who ask me what it is about watching and studying birds that birders like me find so appealing.

    March 20, 2014

  • Olympics spirit in need of repair It is time to rethink what the Olympics ought to be about.

    February 27, 2014

  • Late night drive stirs morning man It has been a long time since my last stint at the wheel in the wee hours of the morning. Several days ago the phone rang at 1 a.m. Never a good sign. Within minutes I was in the car heading for Boston. The sun and I got there at about the same time. Fortunately, the late night emergency that required the trip has resolved itself, all is well, and I was able to head back home the following day.

    February 13, 2014

  • Shopping is never fun, simple I am not a shopper. Quick ins and outs are what appeal to me. The sooner the ordeal is over the better.

    January 16, 2014

  • Wondering if Holidays are worth the stress

    January 2, 2014

  • Laziness must be overcome An essayist in a weekly magazine, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, characterizes the past year as exhibiting an uncommon penchant for laziness.

    December 19, 2013