42

As I tell my stories, I think how I have had a long life, and I have many small stories. But.

Think about something you have done forty-two times. Washed the dishes, perhaps. How many times did it take you to get good at it? Five? Ten? Are you an expert at dishes, having done it at least thirty times?

I have seen forty-two springs. For the first thirty repetitions, I noticed the seasons only for their various inconveniences. Later, my life was still so unstable that I could not take in the rhythm of the changes around me. Too many places changed, and my heart was whirling, my mind insulated. For a while, I had one place, and I began to notice the seasons for their duties. This is when we plant. This is when we have a barbecue. This is when we decorate. My places changed again, but then I settled. My heart stopped raging, and I began to notice the smells of the months. I anticipated the posture of a certain tree I passed each day. I knew when it would blanket the park in a sea of yellowed leaves, I knew when its fruit would stink. We greeted one another as friends each morning. How is it with you? People are gathering my droppings today. And you? Oh, I am enjoying my walk to work.

From that tree, I began to accept the weather patterns I had always noticed in the back of my mind. I let myself get wet in the rain. I groused a bit at the end of winter, ready for the false spring I knew would arrive soon. Sometimes, I planted. Mostly, I opened my windows to smell the air, and watch my old cat twitch at the squirrels.

Forty-two is not enough to become practiced. Only in the last few repetitions have I felt the cycle connect with my body and sweep me through it. I still have not given myself over entirely to the habits of the seasons. This is when we hike. This is when we send cards. Each year, I become more prepared, anticipating the needs of the season.

If you are young, pick a tree.

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