Springtime--and what more worthwhile activity could I pursue to celebrate it than reading a nature poem by one of the greats? Since MS has pretty much zapped my gardening legs, all I can do is gaze longingly at my emerging perennials and wax nostalgic. I tried, really I did—okay, not real hard—to find a suitable poem about nature that cut to the quick of my love-hate relationship with the posies. Was I disappointed.
Rilke equated lying down among the flowers with the graves at a nearby churchyard. Too morbid.
Keats’ poem of the seasons made springtime analogous to the lust of youth. Too sexy.
And Coleridge---well, his trees and wildflowers kept turning into an altar for sacrifice to God. Too Jesus-y. And come to think of it, too Old Testament.
What does springtime mean to me really? All I can do is tell you what has happened so far.
My dogs spend a lot more time outside now. Naturally, they bark more. My Pomeranian, Toby, yaps up a storm whenever he sees a human with a dog in tow (or vice versa). My crazy neighbor, Katy, hates this about him—and all other dogs who behave in kind, which is pretty much every dog in the neighborhood. Barking is part of a dog’s, well, dogness! A normal neighbor would turn the other cheek, especially if they, too, are dog owners. Not Katy. She is a professional dog trainer and owns no less than five dogs. They do not bark, or so she claims. She takes medications for an assortment of mental disturbances and sports an obsessive delusion that she, alone, will rid the neighborhood of barking dogs. Bipolar disorder, narcissism, and dog know-how do not go well together.
Katy has made the rounds of my neighbors to scold them about their pooches’ dogness. She has vowed to take further action if they are not silenced. One day last week, it was my turn. Toby had been outside for half an hour, unattended. I heard his barking and brought him inside. Not two minutes later, Katy rang my doorbell. And rang it and rang it.
I open the door. Toby is by my side, yapping away—which he does when anybody stands at our front door. “Oh,” she whines, covering her ears, “I just can’t take it. He was doing so well, and now he’s barking again.” My legs are getting weak from standing there, and I am beginning to shake with anger—which makes my legs even weaker. After I point out to her that every dog within hearing distance does the same thing, she says “Not my dogs.”
“I’m not going to do anything about it,” I announce, hoping to look dismissive and unbending while I slowly sink to a squat.
“Well, if you don’t I’ll have to do something about it,” she threatens.
“Do whatever you think you need to do,” I shout, and slam the door in her face. I pull myself upright, grab my cane, and brandish it at the closed door. “If this is your way of drumming up business,” I scream, “you suck at it!”
But all is not lost. Lilacs are blooming, hostas are unfurling their meaty leaves, and knockout roses are already making fat little buds. I am relieved to see it all come to life again. I had my doubts in February, but with March came daffodils, with April, tulips and magnolias. And Katy. I wonder if the hemlock will come back this year….