Last week I stepped out of the house for the first time in the better part of a week.
I’d had the flu, not at all unlike a lot of other people. I just needed some fresh air after having been cooped up for too long.
After putting up my collar and pulling down my hat, I decided to go for a walk in the freshly fallen snow. It was, well, quiet and peaceful – and very, very white. After walking for a few minutes, I realized I was heading for McGuire Lake. Even under the snow, the grass and trees around McGuire Lake represented, at least in my mind, a small green oasis from the dirty grey of the streets and sidewalks and concrete buildings that I look at every day when I’m downtown.
When I got there, I brushed the snow from one of the benches, sat down and took a great big breath of fresh air. I sat there and just enjoyed the silence. It was almost like music swirling all around me.
I shut my eyes and imagined I was up at the lake –anywhere but in the middle of a grey, concrete city.
I let the peace wash over me like waves over the rocks. I listened to some sort of songbird, twittering among the reeds. For a moment, a very brief moment, I thought if I opened my eyes it would be spring and the grass would be green, and the promise of a new year might begin to unfold in front of me.
I wanted so much for it to be spring, but deep down inside I knew it was still the middle of January and that we still have another few months of snow. I sat there for the longest time, eyes shut, enjoying my imaginary coming of spring.
When I finally opened my eyes, I felt a lot better. I really did. I was ready to cope.
I sat there for a while longer, watching a group of ducks that were huddled together in the last bit of remaining open water. I did not feel quite so alone. As I watched them, my mind’s eye began to focus in on the long fingers of shadow, cast by a leafless tree nearby. They seemed to wrap themselves around the ducks like a long thin black hand. I guess I cannot help but think like a photographer. How many times have I looked at something and started to compose a picture in my mind’s eye?
I can’t help myself, I guess. I think of where the light is coming from, how it is falling on the subject. I look to see what elements are important to the image. What are the important details: what shutter speed; horizontal or vertical? Ducks on the surface of the water? That would lend itself to horizontal – and so on and so on. Some days I take a thousand pictures without ever using my camera.
Just then a semi came by with its air brakes on. Several of the ducks took flight. The others just paddled a little further away from the sound. So much for peace and tranquility.
As I sat there on the bench, I thought of a line from Ecclesiastes – or at least I know it’s a line from a Pete Seeger song that says: “To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose.”
I like the changing of the seasons, one into another. I also like to think that there is some purpose to life.
How many times have I sat there on one of those benches, on a warm summer’s day, enjoying the warmth on my face and watched a red-winged blackbird sitting perched on a bullrush? I used to like sitting there and watching the kids fishing, but that’s a whole other issue.
Having sat there for a while in the snow, I came to the conclusion that we do not need winter. Why can’t we just go directly from autumn to spring and forget about winter altogether?