Archive for Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Spring memories push back ‘September’

April 16, 2008

One of the songs I like to hear is "September Song." The version I hear most often is done by Frank Sinatra, and when I think of it, it is his voice that reverberates in my mind.

Its lyrics admonish the listener that while it is OK to play a "waiting game" early in the year, by September, the days have grown too short for that kind of approach. Of course, the whole point of the song is to compare a human's life span to the seasons, and that is what most intrigues me.

Comparing life stages to the seasons of the year is an often-used concept from the most ancient times among many cultures. It's reflected in our speech and in our thinking on a deep, almost subconscious, level.

Spring is a time of renewal that arrives every year just when we think we can't stand the cold and nasty weather any longer. The days slowly grow warmer and longer with the promise of new growth everywhere.

On the farm where I grew up, young animals were being born and hatched everywhere. I always loved to watch the young calves. They were so beautiful and clean looking. Their eyes were huge and limpid with long lashes. I longed to touch them but unless they were in a pen at the house, I left them alone. Their mothers didn't tolerate anybody touching their offspring.

A cow I considered docile and quiet would suddenly start pawing the ground in front of her with her front hooves and snorting with head lowered. In cow talk that means get the heck out of here and leave my baby alone. The babies would nurse their mothers in a frenzy, as if this meal were going to be the last, butting her side and switching their tails rapidly side to side in impatience and glee.

After a filling meal, several babies would lie still in a safe place and sleep under the supervision of one old cow while the rest of the mothers ranged further out on the pasture to fill themselves up with newly greened grass. After they had rested and the mothers were back, chewing their cuds and sleepily indulging in cow thoughts, the babies would scamper about, bucking and leaping up in the air with the sheer joy of being alive in the spring sunshine.

The memory of when I too was so happy to be alive in warm sunshine and ran about effortlessly is a precious one. When I'm in a too unpleasant situation (such as in a dentist's chair), I close my eyes and return to my personal springtime where I am running heedlessly through the sweet grass, unfettered by aching knees and a body grown too heavy to sustain bursts of speed.

It is the gift of memories like this that sustain us through the long night of our winters. It is the memory of our own springtimes that warm us as we watch our grandchildren and the children of others discover the world about them and take their first steps into their existence. Life would be too cruel without being able to participate in the awakening of life in children of all kinds.


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