The end of winter may be the most melancholy time of year. It’s not melancholy like November, when the last of summer sweet disappears into early darkness. It’s not melancholy like February, when we lose hope that anything will ever be easy again. March’s melancholy is a gentle sadness encircling early spring, when we bask in new light and warmth, and grasp at every precious ray of new sun; when we remember what (and who) is no longer here to share our joy. The losses are necessary, perhaps–the worn-out do not tolerate beginnings–but harsh, like the bright after a long season of shadows.
It reminds me of that wonderful poem by Elizabeth Bishop:
One Art The art of losing isn’t hard to master; so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster of lost door keys, the hour badly spent. The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster: places, and names, and where it was you meant to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or next-to-last, of three loved houses went. The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster, some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent. I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.
—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident the art of losing’s not too hard to master though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
“I cannot get you close enough, I said to him, pitiful as a child, and never can and never will. We cannot get from anyone else the things we need to fill the endless terrible need, not to be dissolved, not to sink back into sand, heat, broom, air, thinnest air. And so we revolve around each other and our dreams collide. It is embarrassing that it should be so hard. Look out the window in any weather. We are part of all that glamour, drama, change, and should not be ashamed.”—Ellen Gilchrist. (Painting by Alice Neal.)
Louisa May Alcott’s birthday should be another national holiday—one for independent-minded girls everywhere. Certainly I have no idea of who I’d be without Little Women to straighten my spine and warm my heart through every stage of my life. As a child I felt special knowing she’d lived within 20 miles of my house, and ever since I’ve looked to both her life and work as an example of what can be accomplished through the marriage of hard work and imagination. These days, the phrase of hers that resonates with me most is this: “I’d rather be a free spinster and paddle my own canoe.” Happy birthday, Louisa May.