Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Frost, “Nothing Gold Can Stay”
Is it merely my morbid imagination, or has this been a dreary spring weatherwise?
Today, for example, like yesterday and the day before, a leaden sky darkens the land, muting nature’s first green. And, since nothing gold can stay, it also follows that neither can gray, that the leaden sky and dank, chilly air won’t stay around forever. Obviously, weather is constantly moving from west to east as the earth spins, so we can look forward to bright days ahead, and dark days, sickness and health, until death slams the door and the picture making machine shuts off, which doesn’t faze me one iota. As the poet sez, “I don’t remember any problems I had before I was born.”
I do remember, however, it was a bright sunny but below-freezing day when I repeated after the pastor those words “in sickness and in health” and that Judy’s, my bride’s, expression seemed beyond earnest as she stared me in the eye, looking beyond sincere, and her ardor sort of surprised me, and I felt sort of guilty, abstracted there at the altar, thinking not about the vows but about how she looked and wondering what my expression looked like. In other words, I was distracted, out of time.
The good news is that we got to enjoy thirty-nine-and-a-half earth revolutions before death did us part, and it’s almost been a year since then, eleventh-twelfths of a revolution, a quick year, eventful, often lonely but not always.
I’m sitting here at school between conferences with someone else’s advisees (their advisor’s on maternity leave), and it’s the last time I’ll ever do so (mine or all seniors, and I won’t be assigned any new ones). Even though I’m not at all adept at negotiating the byzantine grids of requirement, I am good at engaging parents in small talk, playing the Yeatsian role of sixty-year-old smiling public man (what he calls “a comfortable kind of old scarecrow”). Nevertheless, I won’t miss having advisees next year, the way I might miss teaching “Among School Children.” Will I even come to school on conference day or instead practice at being retired by riding my bike to the Lost Dog for a croissant?
I find myself less and less in a hurry nowadays, and when I eventually do retire, I hope to never be in a hurry ever again. Old age can have its compensations, educated offspring, paid mortgages, free time.
So c’mon, sun, break through; match my mood. I’m done with school for today. I get to hang out with Walker Percy for the rest of the early afternoon and then look forward to whatever.