May 1, 2013 —
Maple catkins droop as tender Amelanchier blossoms herald the arrival of shad plowing upstream to deposit their lucre of roe in the riverbank. Everywhere forsythia and daffodils arch their slender necks in a riot of yellow, proclaiming the end of another gray winter. Redbuds will follow magnolias, then dogwood, each one taking its turn in the unfolding until all are green again, the architecture of branches obscured by leaves that sway and float in the breeze of spring, the warm breath of summer.
I was a May baby, and this has always been my favorite season. Before I knew the names of trees or the order of nature, I reveled in the variety of spring green. (My son, born in September, has a similar affinity for autumn. I wonder—do those born in winter yearn for snow?)
Years ago, a man named Van de Wetering was hired to plant tulips along Park Avenue in Manhattan. Now the avenue is lined with them—no deer to chomp their meaty heads. They light up the gray expanse of the city cheering all who pass by, on foot or in taxis and limousines.
This spring we are living in a city apartment that faces Stuyvesant Square. A city block square, it is one of those rare oases of city life, a place where neighbors speak to each other as if the very trees have given them permission to unveil their normally passive stares. Daily, accelerated no doubt by the heat of the city itself, the leaves unfurl. The season is two weeks or more ahead of itself here. City and country-dwellers like us get to experience an extended season with our comings and goings.
This year, The Muse has seen fewer of those comings and goings with the need to be city-bound to doctors who poke and test and medicate me. Although I am feeling better after a few months of peculiar pains, the tests go on. This week they will investigate the mass that has grown in my gut. It may not have any relevance to my previous discomfort, but now that they have found it they must investigate. The best news I have had is that a CAT scan found most of my vital organs to be “unremarkable.” I’ve never been so happy to be ordinary.
Meanwhile, good friends have suffered worse outcomes. Cancer, stroke, heart surgery to name a few. Through all this I have realized that my experience of aging is just that—ordinary. No matter what pain or disease occurs in our lifetimes, it is not much different from the ones our neighbors face. We can choose to experience the suffering or embrace the change of seasons, the green spring and cold winter both.