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.
Something about this still-chilly March Sunday—on which we all felt a little fragile about losing an hour to daylight’s savings—made me keen to steam up my kitchen’s windows. First I brined a turkey with juniper berries, salt, sugar, cloves, chili peppers, thyme, fennel seeds and bay leaves. Then I assembled an enormous and very earnest salad of spinach, fresh feta, blood oranges, roasted beets, tarragon, mint, and parsley, and fed some of it to a friend and myself while her new baby and my tiny cat watched with round eyes. As the bird slowly roasted with red wine, lemons, fennel bulbs, leeks, carrots, and potatoes in a bright blue Le Creuset, we took a stroll around the neighborhood and felt glad about the afternoon light as well as each other. After she wended home with her small charge, I stored the leftovers in carefully labeled containers, and made a pot of polenta with chopped sausage, lacinato kale, oregano, rosemary, fennel, tomato, and garlic. I ate a bowl of all that with grated Parmigiano and a glass of Italian table wine while paging through an elaborate 1970s cookbook, and, when finished, stored the rest of the pot’s contents in more carefully labeled containers and washed all the day’s dishes while humming along to Dinah Washington. By then, the many bridges of my fine city had finally lit up the night sky, and I regarded the view, as well as the contents of the refrigerator, with great satisfaction. No matter what this week brought, I’d ensured I’d be the queen of my castle.
Honest to Godfrey, as my mother used to say, these ever-earlier sunrises are making me so happy. I went to sleep last night saddled with a bevy of real-deal worries but woke with an enormous grin plastered across my features. Even at 6:15 the world was shining, the sky was rosy, and my little cat’s tiger eyes were gleaming with the pleasure I felt as well. I just love how, no matter how firmly entrenched winter still seems to be, the sun keeps greeting us a few minutes earlier each day. And while nothing is finer than clear, early morning sunshine, the real reason this makes me so glad is because it highlights my favorite fact: As long as we are on this planet, we are sure to experience change–and not all of it will be bad.