Yearning for Spring
It is that time of year when friends in California gleefully
phone and remind you that they almost had to wear a sweater
the night before.
It is that time of year when Californians visiting the east
express glee at seeing snow because it is such a novelty!
And their comments are met with hostile snarls from the residents
of the east who have now felt they have had enough glee for
two years, thank you very much.
It is the time of year when all New York seems to finally
have become exhausted by winter and everyone seems growly.
It is no longer cute to have rosy cheeks; it's just painful.
It is that time of year when friends in New York say, I can't
stand it. I'm off to Aruba. Or St. Bart's. Or Puerto Rico.
The Dominican Republic! Any where warm. South Africa has been
big this year. Exotic, distant, good value of the rand against
the dollar, great wines - and, all things considered, it's
relatively safe! No orange alert in Durban.
Warm. We want warm.
This winter has been particularly hard. Our caretaker in
the country repeatedly has said to us that it's been thirty
years or more since he's seen this much snow. [I, personally,
have not seen this much snow this since I left Minnesota though
I will happily report the cold in New York is not as brutal
as the cold of Minnesota's Siberian winters.]
A few months ago it seemed novel to wear the long winter
coat. Now it feels heavy and inconvenient and not as warm
as it was a few months ago. I spend my days in my office huddled
close to my heater as the air conditioning has not quit working
in there since the 4th of July - good then but torture now.
It must be the end of February.
And it is. We are reaching the end of the physical season
of winter and all around me there is a hope that with the
passing of the physical symptoms the psychological winter
that we have been experiencing will lift itself from our shoulders
along with the weight of all that wool that has now become
This year's psychological winter has been grueling and the
physical symptoms of the season would not be as hard if it
were not for all the things hemming us in psychologically.
It is impossible to forget 9/11 because yesterday the architectural
team was chosen that will be endowed with the responsibility
of rebuilding the Trade Center site. It was Studio Daniel
Liebskind, my personal favorite.
And, as with all things New York, the decision made is only
the beginning of controversy and not the end of conversation.
And then, of course, there is the fact that ten years ago
Wednesday a truck bomb went off in the garage of the Trade
Center. The blast killed six people but failed to be the wake
up call we can now, in retrospect, recognize that it should
It's a cold winter in New York, physically and psychologically.
As I've mentioned before, unemployment here is almost twice
the national average and the gap between our city budgets
and our city revenue is the biggest it's been since New York
almost went bankrupt back in the 1970's.
It is a wintry time as friends begin to leave New York to
look for lives elsewhere - we said farewell to our close friends
Andrew and Cheryl Tuesday. They're headed down to Annapolis
This week the newspapers have been filled with ads that add
to the wintry feelings that entangle themselves around our
souls. The number of pages purchased by anti-war groups in
the New York Times has gone up dramatically while the back
page of one of the Times' sections was an Ad Council ad telling
us how to prepare for an emergency - like a terrorist attack.
Not terribly different [was I relieved?] than all those things
I used to do when I lived in California under the threat of
As a country we live with the threat of Iraq over our heads.
In New York, it seems even closer because the first step toward
this now was taken here. It seems closer because we have only
to look to the east to see the shining U.N. buildings where
debate is raging over our global future.
It is close because we are living with winter and can feel
closely the cycle of death and rebirth and we have only to
walk outside to experience a sense of death and desolation.
We are waiting for spring, for the snow to melt and the trees
to bloom, and while we are waiting for it on the physical
level, yearning for a return to the season and time when the
world brings forth its green and warmth, its crops and fruits,
we are also waiting on a psychological level, wanting a return
to stability and growth, to have the dark clouds of fear that
are over our city to separate and for the sun, literally and
figuratively, to shine again.