It’s breeding season for birds in my neck of the forest. I keep watch for the mourning doves and doves, their call and answer at the magic hour. “The antics of the birds are an invitation to tune in – and to bear witness,” writes Margaret Roach, our gardening columnist.
Perhaps because I’m returning to the office this spring after two years of remote work, I’m particularly attuned to the rituals of the changing seasons. But even if I had been on the road more regularly, as many people have, I think this year would still feel meaningful. Spring cleaning seems symbolic – banish cobwebs from space and mind alike! Spending time outdoors with plenty of daylight almost feels like an honour.
In recent years, new rites have accompanied the sweeping of baseboards and changing of clothes: brushing up on social skills, preparing for socializing with others. We’re gearing up for, if not a “hot girls’ summer” (fool us twice), then at least a moderate-to-warm girls’ summer, a season when you’re out and “unapologetically you” while keeping expectations manageable.
Of course, the spring cleaning of the mind is no longer limited to spring. The fluctuations in the variants require us to strike a balance between social contact and social distance, being out and in, regardless of the season. Sometimes, but not always, these rhythms coincide with the calendar. We have to be nimble, switch gears quickly.
The other night I stopped in front of a bar on my way home from dinner. The light was dim, like in the living room, and the mood after work was cool. Everyone danced. Not full on, cut-a-carpet dancing, just lazily moving their feet and hips, shuffling lightly to the beat of the music. People were still holding their drinks, but they were all moving, almost as one organism. It was fascinating.
When was the last time I saw people dancing? When was the last time I danced myself? It occurred to me that dancing might be an ideal spring reset activity. It allows us to be with other people without worrying about rusty social skills, to converse without speaking.
“Would you recognize a hummingbird’s courtship display?” asks Roach in her column. I definitely wouldn’t. But I’m looking now for the way people flap their wings when they’re talking and when they’re silent. Whether we’re grooving comfortably together or making small talk, we look for (and sometimes find) ways to feel comfortable again, to bridge the distance between ourselves and others.
How to attract birds to your garden.
“It can be hard to admit that sometimes we have to learn how to treat our own bodies and the bodies of others with curiosity, courage and tenderness.” Carina del Valle Schorske on a dance season.
Here is a beautiful paean to cycles, in love, art, physics and elsewhere.
WEEKENDS ARE FOR…
📺 TV: Abbott Elementary is our critics’ pick for comedy.
🕺 Dance: A valuable postmodern work is on stage in Brooklyn.
🖼 Art: JMW Turner’s 19th-century work is on display in Boston.
THE WEEK IN CULTURE
The Masters Golf Tournament: You don’t have to like golf to enjoy the Masters with its green fairways, azaleas and magnolia trees. Listen to the whispered commentary, or just try to identify the bird calls (which officials swear weren’t recorded). And keep an eye on the short 16th hole, where the crowd gets rowdy and hole-in-ones are not uncommon. Today at 3 p.m. Eastern and tomorrow at 2 p.m. on CBS.