In Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy describes spring as the time of plans and projects. I find this perspective, on a season that is associated with rebirth, life, growth and purity, refreshing. Tolstoy underlines the fact that the blooms of spring, beautiful and inspiring as they may be, are not an end in themselves. Wallace Stevens said even when our bloom is gone we remain as the fruit thereof, or as Meister Eckhart extended the metaphor: “What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action.”
As I face the labyrinth of a busy life (thank you, Victor Hugo) Tolstoy’s formulation serves as an important reminder that planning and intention almost always precede sustainable fruitfulness.
The title of today’s post is courtesy of Ernest Hemingway. In closing I share a beautiful observation of his: “With so many trees in the city, you could see the spring coming each day until a night of warm wind would bring it suddenly in one morning. Sometimes the heavy cold rains would beat it back so that it would seem that it would never come and that you were losing a season out of your life. This was the only truly sad time…because it was unnatural. You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintry light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person had died for no reason. In those days, though, the spring always came finally but it was frightening that it had nearly failed.”