It’s bird breeding season in my part of the country. I keep an ear out for the grieving doves and pigeons, their call and response at the magic hour. “The antics of the birds are a summons to listen – and to bear witness,” writes Margaret Roach, our gardening columnist.
Perhaps because I’m returning to the office this spring after two years of working remotely, I’m particularly sensitive to the rituals of the change of seasons. But even if I had dated with more regularity, as many people have, I think this year would still be memorable. Spring cleaning seems symbolic – banish cobwebs from the room and the mind! Lingering outside in daylight is almost an honor.
In recent years, new rites have accompanied sweeping baseboards and changing wardrobes: refreshing social skills, preparing to be in the company of others. Getting ready for, if not a “hot girls’ summer” (getting us wrong twice), then at least a warm temperate girls’ summer, a season of going out, going out and “shamelessly you” while keeping expectations manageable.
Of course, spring-cleaning the mind isn’t just about spring anymore. Fluctuating variants require us to balance social contact with social distancing, being outdoors and being indoors, regardless of the season. Sometimes, but not always, these rhythms are on schedule. We are asked to be agile, to change gears quickly.
One night recently, I stopped outside a bar on my way home from dinner. The light was dim in the living room, the atmosphere cold after work. Everyone was dancing. Full dance steps, cut off from a mat, just moving your feet and hips languidly, an easy blend 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 a perfect activity for the spring reset. It allows us to be around other people without worrying about rusty social skills, being in conversation without speaking.
“Would you recognize the courtship of a hummingbird? Roach asks in his column. I certainly wouldn’t. But I’m on the lookout now for how humans flap their wings against each other, when they talk and when they’re silent. Whether we’re casually grooving together or having small talk, we’re looking for (and sometimes finding) ways to make ourselves comfortable again, to close the distance between us and others.
How to attract birds to your garden.
“It can be hard to admit that sometimes we need to learn 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 hymn to cycles, in love, in art, in physics and elsewhere.
WEEKENDS ARE FOR…
📺 TV: “Abbott Elementary” is our reviewer’s Network Comedy Pick.
🕺 Dance: A precious postmodern work is on stage in Brooklyn.
🖼 Art: The 19th century work of JMW Turner is on display in Boston.
THE WEEK IN CULTURE
The Masters Golf Tournament: You don’t have to love golf to enjoy the Masters, with its lush fairways, azaleas and magnolias. Listen to the whispered commentary or just try to identify the bird songs (which officials swear aren’t pre-recorded). And keep an eye out for the short 16th hole, where crowds get rowdy and holes in one are not uncommon. 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time today and 2:00 p.m. tomorrow on CBS.