Spring came quick. One day the birds were back and it seemed like life just resumed. Like everyone had been released from a witch’s spell, that’s how it felt.
He worked in the yard and dug the heels of his hands in his eyes and sighed. For lunch he warmed leftovers and worked his fork and knife over the plate as a mason might work a trowel. There was enough sun he was tempted to throw open the windows. It was coming in at angles it hadn’t for months, lighting up the rugs and floors. He had the garage doors open and put on the radio, loud for a Sunday but no one was around. Outside it still felt plague-like, everyone hiding in their basements or on a plane headed somewhere else, somewhere they could pretend there wasn’t a plague.
The fog had spread over everything, the whole earth. It moved uncaring to smother anything in its way, creeping across homes and yards, play sets, driveways, thinning randomly in some parts, leaving others untouched. It moved with an indiscriminate force, a life of its own. People argued about the fog and what it meant or where it came from or if it was even real. They checked their feeds and started Podcasts. The fog didn’t care.
It had been so long, the fog’s persistence drove people mad. It had a way of blurring and obscuring what they’d always known, they started to question themselves, their common sense. One day it was everywhere and the next, suddenly gone. Then back once again unexpected.
He leaned back so far on the La-Z-Boy recliner he was almost upside down, a Hanged Man. And when he threw the crank the chair thrust him back like a ride at the fair. Now the fog had lifted, replaced by cotton ball clouds lazing across the sky, a herd of floating sheep. Bugs, larva-looking things half spiraled in the dirt. He saw after-images like this when he closed his eyes, bits of life poking through. The Fibonacci pattern in the foxglove petals like blades in a fan. He was there too, crouched, snatching the ground with both hands. Combing the sward of the earth with a hoe. The therapy of weeding, the real-time editing of anomalies and defects. A way to restore the balance. To make believe you could right any wrong.
It was the first Sunday afternoon in February, a day that would begin and end with birds, new birds he hadn’t seen or heard before. And the light was the same as it had been before, the beginnings of that white Zinfandel light mixed with pale blue at the end of the day.
And he felt alive again because that’s what spring does: it makes you remember we all live again no matter what. That we are born into a world of symbols and sense memory, though we may only realize this in dreams. The ancient language of metaphor, none more primal than spring.