It’s breeding season for birds in my neck of the woods. I’m keeping an ear out for the mourning doves and pigeons, their magic-hour call-and-response. “The birds’ antics are an invocation to tune in — 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 especially attuned to the rituals of the changing season. But even if I’d been out and about with more regularity, as many people have been, I think this year would still feel momentous. Spring cleaning seems symbolic — banish cobwebs from room and mind alike! Lingering outdoors in the ample daylight feels almost like an honor.
For the past couple years, new rites have accompanied the baseboard sweeping and wardrobe changeover: brushing up on social skills, preparing for being in the company of others. Readying for, if not a “hot girl summer” (fool us twice), then at least a temperate-to-warmish girl summer, a season of being out, about and “unapologetically you” while keeping expectations manageable.
Of course, spring cleaning of the mind is no longer confined to spring. The fluctuations of variants require us to balance social contact with social distance, being out and being in, regardless of the season. Sometimes, but not always, these rhythms comport with the calendar. We’re required to be nimble, to shift gears quickly.