Sunday, May 3, 2020

Spring

One Spring day when Jessie was very little she looked up and said, “Oh, look, the leaves have come back from where they go in the winter.
I think new leaves do look kind of like butterflies resting on the branches. And oh that shade of green really speaks to me.
One of the joys of parenthood for me was the way my children played with language as they learned.
There’s a quote I can’t find, I think it’s Nabokov in Speak, Memory, or maybe it’s Tolstoy, about the private jokes, mispronunciations that become standard usage, little sayings families share that bind us together.

Listening to other people’s baby-talk can be obnoxious, so I won’t go any further, except to share the time I said to my father, "Where's the  garbage can?" and he said sternly, “In this house we say Bo-Bo Can.”

Now that we’re practicing social distancing, long walks are one of the things we can still enjoy as long as we wear our masks and New York is looking great.

Did you hear me complain about missing the snow this winter?  I’ll be quiet now because the mild weather was easy on my rose bush and my lovely vine, which I don’t know the name of, and they’re now flourishing.

Did you hear me complain about April’s raw,  damp and windy days?  The tulips have been dazzling, and long-lasting; they’re still around in abundance.


The city is looking swell but I remember when it wasn’t so pretty. 
In the spring of 1969 when I was in Burlington, VT, taking classes at UVM  I heard Howard Cosell on the radio. He was probably talking about Muhammed Ali and the battle over his draft evasion, conviction, and eventual return to boxing.


Howard said, in perfect iambic pentameter,

This has got to be the greatest hassle in the history of awganized spawts!”

Those words, that cadence sang to me, and I said to myself, “I’ve gotta get back there.” New York City held a glamour for me, and, now that I know her much better, the glamour and excitement are still there. 

Some call the early seventies dark days for New York; I was so happy to be starting my life that it all looked pretty sunny to me.  I loved the energy and the crowds.  I’d look at all the people on the street and realize that each person I saw had just as big a circle of family and friends as I had, which meant there were multitudes of people beyond my own.
The city was strapped financially, but not me.  I was making a hundred dollars a week, paying fifty dollars a month rent. I was sitting pretty. Some days I would walk from my apartment on 93rd street to my job in Rockefeller Center through Central Park.  The zoo was open then, you could walk right through, so I’d visit the polar bear and the seals.
My brother asked me where I would live if I could live anywhere in the world. I said, right here.
He said, "I mean if you could live anywhere."
"I know," I said. "right here."


Those were tough times for New York, with “Ford to City, Drop Dead”, and “Ladies and Gentlemen the Bronx is burning”, but things got better.  We face another kind of tough time now and I can't promise things will get better.
things are so uncertain.  Let's just keep on keeping on, wearing our masks, washing our hands, and staying six feet apart as we find electronic ways to be together.


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