Monday, March 31, 2014

Out Like a Wet Simile

It's a raw rainy night out there. Evocative. I'm afraid crimes are being committed as the clock nudges toward midnight. Maybe not, but it suggests footsteps behind you, matching your gait, someone comfortable in the pages of a whodunit.  Reminds me of the night I was walking around Chestnut Hill Reservoir when I lived in Brighton. I heard a noise behind me. I walked faster. So did whatever was behind me. I began to run. It matched my pace. Faster—same. I finally stopped and turned around, stiff with fear. I had tangled up with some cast-off fishing line and a few noisy items of junk, all hitchhiking along.

"I am the viper! I'm here to vipe your vindows!"

This is March going out like a lamb who should be in a warm barn snuggled against some fleecy hay-mate, dreaming of certified public accountants vaulting over a cubicle, but instead is picking its way along the rainy street, bleating piteously. Not pitiously, more piteous than that. Wet wool. What's worse? I'll tell you what. Woof! Lamb pursued by the Hound of the Baskervilles across the dread moors. Finally, exhausted, it turns to face its dogged pursuer, get it? hoping to find a fishing line tangled up with a read-aloud baby book of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, read by Benedict Cumberbatch, whose name makes baby laugh. Instead—worse. Lamb faces a lion, whom he/she/it must somehow persuade that they are one and the same, that the leonine days of early March have evolved quite naturally into the docile temperament of a lamb, and furthermore this is lamb's territory, this is late March, the last day, what are you even doing here, you maned interloper? And it works, the lion backs away, embarrassed, feeling cub-foolish, while the lamb advances, fleece dripping, having found its Inner Ram. But do not push your advantage too far, young ovine, for there is a joke circling overhead about pulling the wool over your eyes, and it's I must now be going to beddie-bye.

So enjoy your moor, even if it's a dream and you're really in that cozy barn after all, and it's the CPA's who have to make it home in the dark and the wet. 

Good night, flock, and good luck.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Daylight Savoring Time

Hope stopped by for a visit today. Winter had a senior moment. The dribs and drabs of March were rearranging into the birds and bards of April. What released this new surge of optimism? Milder temperatures; and a dividend of daylight we pay ourselves this time of year as part of the Spring Forward and Save Daylight Sale!

Daylight is an almanacky word, slightly herbal, smelling of woodsmoke, and good for you. It shines with almost the same brimming beam as delight. However, its allegiance is divided between the day and the light, and it wanders into other contexts—the living daylights (sense and sanity) that are knocked or scared out of you; the daylight you put between two things that were too close together; the dawning awareness of something formerly obscure.  

Twice a year, daylight is a commodity, a natural gift we can seemingly control like a tap or a dam or a lock. In pre-spring we save it by cutting an hour out of the day and putting it in the bank, to be redeemed in the fall. Somehow this game of self-deception works. The twilight that only yesterday belonged to 6:00 now belongs to 7:00, and 6:00 basks in the bronzy late sun that used to be the property of 5:00. And so on: natural light flooding new windows of time with brighter, newly-appreciated, luminosity.

There' s something charmingly old-fashioned and Groundhog Daylike about this formula of turning clocks and watches ahead or back twice a year, revealing "our" time as the malleable stuff it is. Ironically, this tick-tock tactic is meant to give us more time for nature's time, the planetary orbit (or bit thereof), the energizing earth and atmosphere, wind and water, "the force that through the green fuse drives the flower," to quote Dylan Thomas's powerful poem about youth and aging.

I'll buy some of that juice, Bruce.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

march forth!

It's March's version of Groundhog Day. No furry critter looking for a sign, but the day itself delivering  an invitation to launch, a kind of call to arms, and feet. 

Interesting how many months have a first-week day that launches its particular 4+ week trek with vigor, introspection, or festivity: New Year's Day, Groundhog Day, March Forth, April Fool's Day, Mayday...July 4th...Rounding Cape August (not widely known), Labor Day...Day of the Dead...and "the first of December was covered in snow..." To say nothing of exclaiming "Rabbit, Rabbit!" for luck on the first day of every month, if you remember.

Back to March Forth. Like most wordsfolk, I believed I alone discovered this remarkable sound-alike coincidence back in the 1980s. I remember working in an after school care program in Newton, Mass., and on 3/4 I organized a parade through the empty halls of the school building we inhabited: a half-dozen or so kids and me, banging rhythmically on pot lids and other noisemakers, chanting "March forth! March forth!" after I assured them that it was indeed a real holiday, even if they'd never heard of it.

However, word has spread, probably disseminated by those same kids, now in their mid-thirties, although somehow also trapped as eight-year-olds in my memory.

A quick swoop into Google yields such evidence as the terrific March Fourth Marching Band, the March Forth Fun Run in Seattle, the March Forth With Hope Foundation to cure cancer and the"How to Celebrate March Fourth" website, with instructions for throwing a celebration of setting goals (4. Choose your food based on a marching theme, such as trail mix, shoestring potatoes, "lettuce march" salad, rocky road, etc.)

Me? I'm writing about it. Isn't that worth something? Isn't a blog entry a marching forth? You wish, pal, says my judge, who's that guy of indeterminate age on the treadmill next to mine, who sets his speed to Intimidate, making my 3.5mph look sedate by comparison. Except I didn't even go to the workout place today, of all days. And yes, a message on the talking drum is a marching forth of sounds. It just seems a little like "talking the walk".

So, fine, I'll march 4th to Walgreen's to pick up a prescription, at least, knowing that the real test is not March 4th, but March sixth, which doesn't command anything, says the gravelly voice echoing in the empty gym, except a little attention, maybe? If that's not too much to ask?