Just the barest hint of spring is in the air, and its presence is giving me a feeling of happy anticipation and hope. In the last several days, after so very many weeks of bitterly cold weather, the thaw began -- first the snow, followed by the ice on the lakes in Central Park, then the mud, and finally glimpses here and there of bulbs popping up, and little feathery shoots of baby green grass.
We have even had a few days of mildish weather, when you can actually open the windows indecently wide and air out the house. One afternoon, while tidying up in my living room, a breeze came through the window. The breath and scent of it, so fragrant with the smell of the earth, so reminiscent of the years of spring air before it, that I stopped what I was doing to relish it. Memories and images came rushing back, just from this mere gust of breeze. I have had this same experience happen to me every year of my life that I can remember, and it never ceases to be new, never ceases to delight, never ceases to invigorate me, and never ceases to remind me of the miracle of it all.
It's too early, but soon we will see the birds begin nesting, so busy are they gathering materials for their nests. Since this is New York, you often see birds using fairly amusing odds and ends for building: bits of plastic shopping bags, balloon string, even bits of shredded balloon. Once I saw a bird with a big knot of old red yarn, lollipop sticks, cigarette butts -- all the sorts of things one might find on the ground in the park. I love to watch the birds' industriousness, and I am especially fond of the robin, because of the beautiful blue eggs they lay. Sometimes you can find a bit of a broken blue shell after the chicks have hatched. We also are lucky enough to have birds that are rare to the area nest in the high grasses along the water -- particularly the beautiful and elegant white egrets. And, of course, the majestic and glorious peregrine and red-tailed falcons that have set up house on the high ledges of the 5th Avenue apartment buildings that face the park. They are the most amazing sight to see.
Two nights ago, late in the evening, I had the TV on while I was finishing some work. I was watching Bravo, and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was on. It's one of my favorite movies (and the book is one of my favorite books), and Maggie Smith is just fantastic as Jean Brodie, the school teacher who leaves an indelible mark on her girls. I happened to catch a moment in the movie that got me thinking. It is a scene in Miss Brodie's classroom, a long monologue by Maggie Smith as she shows her students slides of her most recent trip to Italy. One of them is of a painting, by Rossetti, of Dante (the Renaissance poet who wrote The Divine Comedy) on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, experiencing his first glimpse of Beatrice, who would be the love of his life. The monologue is about that moment, the coup de foudre, the lightning bolt of love. The speech continues, explaining that is was springtime when Dante first saw Beatrice, and that "Spring is the enchantment of old loves." I stopped what I was doing as that last sentence hung in the air, and thought, that is the best description of what spring is that I have heard -- the enchantment of old loves. How true.
Even if one is young, and perhaps, hasn't had a first love, or barely an old love or two, we all know this enchantment at any age. I remember in my early teens, walking to school, smelling the newly turned earth, grass just cut, the scent of lilacs, and sensing this feeling inside of me, even though I for one had yet to have much in the way of past loves. But I think the experience is an atavistic one, one that lives inside of all of us, a trait that is genetic, a collective memory, to borrow from Jung. It is what in the end makes us all connected to one another; we can experience the feeling of an emotion we are yet to have ourselves. That is one of life's great gifts and mysteries.
In the end I was inspired to create a cover and issue that was light, bright, breezy, fun and lighthearted, filled with color, and happy in its message. "The Jam" is my homage to early Spring, to get us in gear, and I hope you will enjoy it.
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