The weather has turned as abruptly as a corner, from Seattle's ever-winter overcast through endless March drizzles and occasional baffling hail, and passed suddenly into spring. It's shockingly sunny and blue, light in the morning and on past the end of a working day. Our fruit trees are blooming, and the weeping willow (grown I swear three feet taller since last spring) a waterfall of green the color of hope.
It makes it harder, the dissonance between the vigor of the honeysuckle and the thicket of tiger lily stalks, and the new directive not to go anywhere without a face mask. Of course, you can't get a face mask for love nor money, so the internet is less full of cat memes and more full of videos showing how to make face masks out of white handkerchiefs and hair bands. That's a callback to a less lethal time, isn't is? When you and I watched daytime t.v. while you washed and ironed a man's handkerchiefs. When honeysuckle was a weed that climbed trees, and in the spring we pulled it down and burned it. When I took long walks in the woods with the dog that was eventually shot for killing chickens, and if I stayed out at the pond in the evening all the little bats would come bumbling through the air, always threatening but never quite managing to get tangled in my hair. That seems like a hundred years ago, when I was often alone and never lonely and we hadn't yet discovered how quickly we were killing the world: already heading 70 miles an hour down the straight road to ocean warming and whole counties on fire.
I've been rewatching Richard Attenborough's most recent series, all about the places and species we're killing, and I think, well at least now there's a cure for that. My friend in Kansas City has been texting me, telling me how they go out into their back yard in a cul-de-sac on 95th and Wornall, right in the middle of the city, and catch all the animals that have gotten stuck (seven raccoons, two groundhogs, and something that might be a porcupine, so far) and release them in Red Bridge Park (where I used to go for illicit beer and cigarettes in my misspent youth!). He says they've seen as many as seven deer in the yard at once. And here, although we don't have any back yard fauna apart from our giant, anvil-headed dog, in the morning the bird song is back, and in the evening the chorus of peepers, and in the middle of the night, when I can't sleep, the coyotes calling to one another.
It's hard, being so fearful while spring explodes around us. But, as I told the kids many, many times when they were little and asked, every living thing is born, and every living thing dies. If, by our just staying home, our urban back yards can suddenly be full, then how much good could it do the world if some of us die?