Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spring Flowers

I have only had one or two good nights' sleep since we switched to Daylight Saving Time. This has been the worst year I recall for that: also the worst year for pollen I have ever known. I walk about feeling that my eyes are huge sorry pouches, bulging with lymph. I look in the mirror and my usual calm clear blue eyes look back at me. Ha.

Spring would be physically difficult for me even if they didn't monkey with the clock: I seem to be one of those people whose internal chronometer never did adjust to leaving subtropical Africa. The light coming earlier throws me out of all reckoning. I wonder whether Daylight Saving Time is really such a disaster, or whether it's just the messenger, bringing all the misery of Spring all at once. At least I don't mind the sunlight and the warmer weather as I used to. I'm perfectly happy for sunlight to be washing the world, and me, and I'm actually grateful for the warmth.

It's been a strange season, nevertheless: oblique lights, unexpected resistances and startling glides. I have been using too much oil during some of my massages: sometimes coming to dry skin seems just too much to take, too sad, too disconnected, too much a prefiguring of death. I want to drench my clients with oil, wash them in it, as they do (I hear) in Indian, Ayurvedic massage. But I just use a little too much, and take it off again with the flannel sheets. People like being wiped down with the sheets: it's a new, piquant sensation to send them off the table with. It will do.

A strange season. An eddy, a remanso in the river of my life. We went walking on the Sandy River last week, and half the trees were fiery with new green, others brilliant with white flower. Half a dozen vultures wheeled over the bluff, the whole time. Martha glanced up at them, and said “We're not dead yet!” in a helpful, informative tone; but they reserved judgment. The only other party we saw was a pretty, plump young woman, in jeans that were too tight, trying to teach her little boys how to skip a pebble across the surface of the river. One was too young, though, and the other more interested in heaving the biggest rocks he could lift into the water, so as to make a grand splash. It all struck me as unendurably lonely, and I imagined that her husband had left her that morning, a note on the dresser, and that she was being brave: take the boys out to the river, and figure out the new life. No reason I should have thought that. But that's the cast of my mind.

I pause. A deep breath. I can hear the ticking of two clocks. A little patch of light makes it through all obstacles and lands on the floor, illuminating a jumble of socks, shoes, and sandals. I'm reminded of the woman who came to a neurologist, and asked him if she were dead. Nothing wrong, exactly, but she couldn't shake the conviction that she was a ghost, not really there. “Do I seem alive to you?” she asked.

8 comments:

Rouchswalwe said...

Doesn't get dark soon enough for me at this time of year. Then when it does, I feel like the full moon is after me, soaking through my bedroom window and waking me with its harsh brightness. But I suppose that's how I know I'm not a ghost.

Zhoen said...

“We're not dead yet!” in a helpful, informative tone

Very funny.

marly youmans said...

Remember the biblical "She has done what she could" after the breaking of the jar of ointment? It's also rather like anointing for burial, Dale!

Melancholia comes to you in spring, then... It often seems to me that the very ill elderly hang on until spring and then let go. Perhaps that's just an illusion.

We have entirely too many vultures in the next block over. They have a strange smell, those fellows. I don't know if it's death or pee, as they often pee on their ugly vulture-feet (I think to regulate temperature.)

Was that an Oliver Sacks case? I would give that woman a copy of Walden. Thoreau is very good on people sleepwalking through life and the need to waken.

Dale said...

No, not Sacks. It was a snippet I heard on public radio, possibly This American Life? And I don't think I ever caught the man's name. Not a spiritual or psychological disorder, a purely neurological one, if I remember right. (Though of course it resonates with my own purely spiritual & psychological discomforts :-) You're right, I should read Thoreau again.)

I like vultures, although I imagine they do smell: I only ever see them way high in the air, riding the thermals. So instantly recognizable, the way they soar. Hawks and such are still obviously flying, but our turkey vultures seem to be simply hung up in the air: they seem to be expending no effort at all.

Dale said...

Rouchswalwe: !!! xo

Zhoen: :-)

Tom said...

This "springing forward" and "falling back" every year does seem to present problems. Here in France, and you can't get much further west, we are on Central European Time - the same as Germany and Poland, and who knows who else. This means that getting up in the morning in winter is like being gragged out in the middle of the night. To see a decent night sky in summer requires that one stays up until about 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning. (Perhaps that is the answer; don't look at the sky in summer, and stay in bed half the day in winter.)

marly youmans said...

Of course, it's sort of comical to turn to a man who made other people think of a tree (wasn't it Emerson who said compared the thought of taking his hand like taking the branch of an oak tree?) for human things

I do prefer vultures high in the air. Ours like to hang about in trees and fall asleep under the snow and then frighten us by bursting out a snow bank. I've had one lead me up River St. in the snow, waddling like mad.

Yrs,
the Insomniac

Peter said...

A beautiful post, Dale. "The ticking of two clocks." Yes.