Because its’s been quite a warm spring here so far, I have conflated February with March a bit in my mind. Which is to say, I am looking for the magical examples of life ongoing that sustained me last year, at the beginning of the pandemic: the neon green young leaves on mesquite trees, the emergent poppies and other flowers, the cactus blooms, the bird madness. The mesquites near my house, in particular, are resisting this narrative and resting comfortably in the end of winter, hanging onto old, dingy foliage, if they have any foliage at all.
The refusenik trees have been making me nervous, I guess because the winter greens in my garden are all four feet tall and bolting yellow flowers, drawing bees by the humming drove. I’ve been getting mixed signals, is what I’m trying to say, and worrying about some mass die-off of important plant life in my neighborhood. There were an unusual number of brown evergreens and junipers before we got our morsel of rain. A lot of the agaves have weird parasites. One neighbor has a suffering saguaro in their yard, pinching inward as if by corset.
Living in the desert makes me prone to magical thinking. Actually, I’ve always been that way—I can still conjure up the feeling of walking around a particular bend in the road near my childhood home on a cloudy day, mist hanging around the treetops; how it seems as though that road is the beginning of a journey, not to the strip mall a half-mile distant but perhaps to the seashore, and from there to the horizon, and from there to the rest of your life, unpredictable, unknown.
I guess the difference here is that my magical thinking is often more disaster-oriented; it is so hot, so dry, that I worry the entire world is being parched through the vehicle of my own body.
But the spring is coming, and it would do me well to remember. The soil is cool, but it will warm again, probably faster than I’d like. And there are other things to remember too, the world’s possibilities still waiting to unfold after this long winter, this long hibernation we have all been subject to. I got the strongest urge the other day, while walking the dog, to fly to LA and go to Disneyland. Interesting, because to the degree I’ve thought about roller coasters at all in the past few years, it’s been to think, Never again, not ever will I put myself on that screaming silver death machine, because my heart rate is already high enough. But there is something different about Disney, the blunt-force art direction, the idea of being rocketed around Space Mountain, which is not just a coaster but a whole experience, a secret world you’re taken into and spat out from, churned up but basically unharmed. Or maybe just something different about me, in that moment, from the moment before.
Which is to say, the bend in the road is still in front of us, and we still don’t know exactly where it goes. And I don’t want to know. I just want to put one foot in front of the other, and walk into that misty morning.