Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The right (rite) of Spring

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Blue Jays and cardinals battle for bird seed in my back yard – both chasing the sparrows away.
With winter over and the budding started, the sparrows come in packs like cockroaches, wiping out each bird feeder filling with their outrageous antics.
But they fear the blue jays, and cardinals, and so stand back to let these royal beasts feed – first one, then the other, never the two at the same time.
All these rituals acted out in good faith, as if they had rules of order that we humans can barely perceive.
This is the weekend when this part of the world made its final turn from the chill of late winter to spring, this winter ignoring the calendar so as to stretch out over us with a constant threat of snow, and with a chill that still resides in my bones even with the temperature finally rising.
I’m always anticipating change before it happens, and so took a trip to Manhattan aboard one of the roach-like shuttle buses so I could catch a strange but wonderful movie about a strange but wonderful hotel in a time period leading up to the first World War.
Rain poured down the whole day and since we arrived early, we had to walk about trying to find shelter from the storm – first at the Starbucks to buy coffee, and then inside the cavernous halls of the Port Authority.
This was not the place I recalled from when I was a kid, but something more like a shopping mall, and it depressed me a little to think that time alters all things and paints them in shades of some new generation.
The movie said it best in its story within a story. The hotel had been past its prime even in the deepest level of story, and so it is true of this part of New York in which malls replace places I once considered a refuge, and which had helped me escape my fate when I was young, the starting point for my great migration west, and the destination point when years later I returned to suffer the consequences of what I had done.
The place and the people had shown me kindness, a forgiving nature I’m sure the world today lacks, except for rare corners, where a person can still find forgiveness.
Eventually, we wandered back into the rain, avoiding walking up 42nd Street and its flood of open umbrellas for 43rd or 44th, so as to enter Times Square with less of a rush of people, although people still bumped into us the way they did that one New Years when Frank and I mistakenly thought to come here to celebrate.
I’m lost in crowds, even when they are less furious. As so I clung to the side of the sidewalk where the walls of the store provided one side of me with protection, and gradually made my way back to 42nd Street and the walk back to the movie theater – taking refuge in this historic place with its historic dome, and seeing all of the people here the way I saw sparrows at home, flocking together, struggling to make their way through this maze to some source of soul-food they might find on the silver screen.
But there were so many screens and dreams to choose from, and ours proved to be on the top floor, giving us a choice of multiple escalators or a single ride in an elevator. We took the latter choice. We had no choice on return since the elevator ceased working, and like sparrows, we crowded onto this moving stairs for the long journey into the depths, the silver visions of dreams from the screens still flashing in our eyes, even when we finally reached the street and the rain, and the stream of open umbrellas making their way in the direction of the Port Authority.
It wasn’t until the next morning that I noticed the first flowers, rising up from the bed of leaves, or the half empty bird food container, and the hundreds of sparrows in the branches of the trees, all waiting for the escalator to bring them down to feed.

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