You go outside, and it seems the whole neighborhood is asleep.
And there are fireflies. Not one or two. At least five or six. Why are they surprising? Why do they bring hope? Reassurance? Reassurance that with everything going on in the world, all is right with the trees and the stars, and you can still stand in the quiet, and take in the magic of the universe.
Excitement and high pitched voices. Nothing you could recognize as words. It wouldn’t be going too far to call it squealing.
The sound of kids. The sound of kids heading somewhere with the pace they use when it’s just them. Kids with no grown-ups holding them back. Like … FREEDOM!
After a full minute of just sounds moving up the trail, two boys came around the bend on bikes. Maybe eight years old. Helmets. Full speed. Wheels bouncing over bumpy dirt. You know the rhythm of left/right, left/right. That standing-up kind of pedaling kids use when they want to go as fast as they can. All the time, their almost-yelling-we’re-so-excited-voices. Not indoor voices. No, definitely outdoor voices.
They looked and sounded like they’d been in timeout for a week, and were just released. Or they were pals who hadn’t seen each other for a long time. They sounded like it was Halloween night, and they just left home for a couple hours of fun, fun, fun. It sounded like the last day of school, in normal times.
Tall trees stand stubborn, dark straggly lines against a soft blue sky. It could be the middle of February. We … the humans … watch. We tap our toes and wonder. Isn’t it time for spring? Some small, discernible bits of newness? Some buds, or some green, some encouraging signs of a new season.
No, the trees look back, offering nothing more than a confident sway, as the uppermost branches, leafless, bend in unison.
They’re mostly oaks and a few poplars. And it’s like they’ve become defiant, adamant at least, about who’s in control. Plain, unadorned branches, move slowly left and then right in the breeze. Shouldn’t they be working on some green, some buds, even some pollen? I’ve watched this slow drama play out so many years, and yet I wonder impatiently what happens first. Tiny sprigs of green, or those long strands of gold pollen?
The trees, though, the trees stand stubborn, and they sway when they feel like it. They move with a swagger, resistant to every human wish for spring. We’re all used to waiting now, aren’t we? But It feels like it will be the 4th of July, and still those big old trees will be standing there looking like they looked in February. We … the humans … restless, watching, waiting for them to green up. And waiting for a life that resembles something like it used to be. Any day now, maybe next week, maybe in a few months.