Spring, Now and Then




A friend asked me to send her a photo of the first robin I saw this spring. But the robins have been back for quite awhile, poking their beaks through the slowly melting mountains of snow, now hills of the stuff. Walking towards one of the oldest buildings on campus yesterday, as I climbed up the 40 slate steps to the door, I glanced back and saw a robin. No, two. No, there were three and as I stopped and watched them for awhile, I counted seven. I haven’t yet graduated to a smartphone, so I had no way to snap a picture of them, an extended family of robins…

The white crocuses outnumber the yellow ones emerging in our small front garden, by ten to one. The fingerling potatoes were more sprout than tuber after a week in the pantry. The thermometer says 35, but the sun is strong, and the landscaping trucks have emerged in suburban neighborhoods. Red Sox opening day is around the corner. It won’t be long before students will be lying out on the grass reading, talking, or just wool gathering.

On days like this, when I was an undergraduate, people would gather at the Sundial, in the center of the Columbia campus, for a rousing speech by an antiwar activist, or the reading of poetry by the likes of Allen Ginsberg or Kenneth Koch.  By late April of my junior year, students would take over Low Library, the administration building, and then march to Morningside Park to protest the new gym about to be constructed on a popular neighborhood playground. From there, more campus buildings were occupied, and we were all caught up in the political drama, whether activists, fellow travelers or observers. We thought the whole world was watching, and perhaps it was, if only briefly, before people turned back to their spring duties, picking up fallen branches, cigarette butts, and discarded candy wrappers from the parking strip.


3 thoughts on “Spring, Now and Then

  1. I have yet to see a single robin! Perhaps it’s been that kind of year. But as for those days during the Columbia protests – I hold them in my memory. I think it was a different world and you did change it. Where are the robins? Where are the student activists? I guess everybody is on their cell phones, computers, Apple watches…. Oh well, “we’ll always have Paris..”


  2. Here I sit, down the road from your remembered springtime, more youthful egotism than real idealism the way I recall it. I’ve not seen a single flower or a single robin, but then the tree wells and the mall on Broadway haven’t yet been really cleaned. I’ve made the mistake of going outdoors with less than a winter coat, and I’ve been fooled. So I’ll take your word for it that spring is here. Seven robins, really? Thanks for the gift, Lynne.


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