“With so many trees in the city, you could see the spring coming each day until a night of warm wind would bring it suddenly in one morning. Sometimes the heavy cold rains would beat it back so that it would seem that it would never come and that you were losing a season out of your life. This was the only truly sad time in Paris because it was unnatural. You expected to be sad in the the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and cold, wintry light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen, When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person had died for no reason.
In those days, though, the spring always came finally but it was frightening that it had nearly failed.
-Ernest Hemingway, “A Movable Feast”
I remember sitting in the square of the desert city I lived in years ago, and admiring the aspens that painted the mountains in a yellow blaze and enjoying the last few days of warmth, before the winds came in and wiped away autumn, bringing in the cold of winter. I was in my mid-20’s at the time, and had been there enough years to know that one morning I would awake to a city with bare trees and winds that bit, and no birdsong to greet me. I was always sad when this happened. Some winters could be mild, but others were heavy – with blinding snowstorms that could keep you inside, watching as the snow piled high against the door, knowing that the spring was months away and solitary confinement loomed until then.
In March the winds would come, loud and boisterous, beating against the windows, the adobe walls of our houses. They were fierce and brutal and after a week or two of listening to them – as if a constant train whistle that never ended – everyone in town was tense and angry. But it would pass, and the buds on the trees would begin to unfurl, the birdsong would return and one could inhale the beginning of a new season of life again.
When I moved back East, to be with the man that would become my husband, I was amazed by the difference in the spring. I had grown up on the East Coast, and yet through all my travels and living in the dry desert, I had forgotten what the season offered. My eyes were entranced with the numerous shades and varieties of green that emerged in the woods that surrounded our house, and I would walk for hours, lost in my thoughts and the beauty all around me. Those were good days.
“When the spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest”
-A Movable Feast
And then the horrible day in April, when the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person had died for no reason. It was that day that I found him, with the cold rains battering the bedroom windows and the light was grey. He was grey. Or ashen. White. Gone.
After all the people had left, after he had been cremated and life had returned to normal for the rest of the world, I remember sitting on our, now my, back porch and watching the spring unfold around me. The birds sang, the sun was warm, the leaves were showing off their various shades of green. And I resented all of them. The noise, the warmth that couldn’t touch the cold inside of me, the life I was seeing blossom all around me. Death had come knocking on my door and taken from me the one thing that mattered – the one thing that made my life worthwhile and real. I was alone, with emotions I had never felt, experienced, and I hated them all. I hated everything. Life was cruel, the world was cruel. And I no longer understood my place in it.
That spring was my lost season. I think I have been lost ever since. What I had controlled – my brain and the disease that lingered within it- for 9 years awoke within me, like the beast with two backs, and I was no longer the woman I had been only a week before.
I am still searching for the spring.
© Sorrow & Kindness