Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Spending your days in literal silence, interposed with a series of short phone conversations, will slowly change your perception of your surroundings. You start noticing sounds you would otherwise not have paid attention to. Same thing with your visual perception. When your days are spent in solitude, any movement outside your window is augmented. Ditto your sense of smell.

Since my street is a quiet one, this has meant for me that the weather, and nature, plays a prominent role in my theater of life. During the Summer, I can hardly contain myself in the house. Keeping my mind on my work bacomes a venerable challenge, and just being indoors feels stuffy and confined. Since I discovered road biking, ecstacy is achieved daily with the wind rushing by, and myself zooming down the road at forty miles an hour. Autumn fills me with nostalgia, and I instinctly start preparing for my winter hibernation. This is the time of my feeble attempts to winterproof our cars and house, when I park my bike for the winter, and am finally able to say no to some work proposals, a feat that I am usually incapable of. Winter usually falls on me like a thick blanket. I sleep considerably longer, rarely venture outside voluntarily, except occasionally to go skiing, and I mostly spend my time working, cooking hearty meals, reading books, or trying my ten thumbs on some handy-man's project that is out of the realm of my capabilities.

But then, as soon as the days begin to get longer, and winter looks like it is about to let go, my heart starts beating faster. My work schedule intensifies, I invariably travel more, seek out the company of other people, spend my nights listening and talking, instead of reading or sleeping.

It has been unseasonably warm this winter. Which has given me a hard time falling into my hibernation. For months now, I have been in a quasi autumn/winter mode, never quite getting that cold winter calm into my soul.

Until today, that is.

My daughter and I have been under the spell of a series of colds, flus and the like for over a month now, with little relief. Last night, I thought she was coming down with something yet again. Sure enough, she had a fever. This morning, however, her temperature was back to normal. I still decided not to take her to the daycare, but keep her home instead. Predictably, the poor kid was miserable. Spending most of her days these last few weeks with nobody to play with except dad is definetely wearing thin. I can't blame her. So I relented, and took her temperature again when it got closer to noon. Still no fever. She didn't exhibit any other symptoms, either. Except that latent cough that she doesn't seem to be able to shake off. So I bundled her up and drove her to the day care. She was giddy. Actually squeeled with delight when we pulled up to the house. When I took off her layers of clothes, I noticed that she was sweating. My heart sank. I thought her fever might be back. As I mumbled something about taking her back home, I got a sideways glance from my friend, the head-nanny. "You did notice that it is over 40 degrees outside?", she asked me softly. Yes, I had, but it didn't register with me that it meant that bundling my daughter would practically poach her. I was relieved. I barely managed to kiss the little energizer bunny good-bye, before she ran in to meet the other kids.

While driving home, I realized that I was still in my winter-is-ascending-mode. It had simply not gotten cold enough for long enough for me to register that winter has peaked. As I drove into my driveway, it started to rain. Not snow, or slush, or freezing rain, or any of that stuff. No, it was raining real rain. I looked at the dashboard. The thermometer read 50 degrees. I stepped out of the car. Took off my glasses. Closed my eyes. And stood there. In the rain.

Suddenly, everything shifted. From melancholic autumn thoughts, to a fluttering feeling of spring. I could feel her. The blood rushed to my head. My cheeks turned red. It was she, Nature. Stirring, in her sleep. I felt a whiff of fresh dirt. That thick, earthy smell that your fingers get after you've spent a day weeding beds of flowers. As I stood there, I could hear the soft clicks of raindrops hitting puddles of unfrozen water all around me. The deafness of snow was lifted. A promise of spring eventual was given. Winter has not been beaten, but he knows he can not get much farther, and has thus sounded his retreat.

And I knew. I knew why my step is lighter. Why my pulse is quicker. I knew why I am again tearing through my work at a faster pace. I also realized that I have been pestering my friends incessantly for the last couple of weeks, besieging them with phonecalls, e-mails, and messages. It is literally because of Nature. Life is pumping through her veins once more. The Sun is turning warm again. The Earth is breaking of its icy shackles. Now I know, and now I can relax.

Rain is here again. Enveloping me, washing away all my sorrow.