Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patty's Day!

So, today marks the anniversary of the day ol' St. Patty drove the snakes from Ireland. Actually, today is a traditional feast day celebrating the death of an uncanonized saint of the Roman Catholic Church who apparently was also a missionary responsible for — alongside his disciples — re-introducing Classical Greek and Roman literature lost in the fall of the Roman Empire to Continental Europe. For me St. Patrick's Day marks the beginning of spring, even thought it occurs three days before the actual vernal equinox; the onset of Daylight Saving Time mentioned in last week's post actually denotes a sort of pre-spring to me, a reminder that the still cold and dormant world is poised to waken out of slumber. Spring can actually be a rather unpleasant time of year for street people here because of how variable the weather can be; often you'll have balmy days followed by bracing days of miserable horizontal rain, even during a single day you can find yourself peeling off your flannel just moments after shaking off your umbrella! The only constant is the (welcome) addition of two to three minutes of light to each day.

But, the signs of spring are all around for those with eyes to see and ears to hear and noses to smell. It always starts with the plants, with trees like cherry and magnolia budding unnoticed until suddenly the streets explode in whites and pinks and other colors that make me think of bridal beds in honeymoon suites; not to mention the exuberant flowers and even normally well-behaved shrubbery sprouting blossoms in unruly bunches. Which is shortly afterward followed by the emergence of animal life; rather annoyingly in my neighborhood in the appearance of flying ants, while downtown male pigeons puff themselves up and pester the poor womenfolk of their kind with their insistent and guttural-sounding cooing that reminds me of the occasional aggressive panhandler you see trying to shamelessly intimidate petite women out of their money. That's how it is in the city, at least, with its relative paucity of natural life compared to the more rural outskirts surrounding outlying suburbs; no writhing balls of snakes mating in the fields to mock the chastity of Roman Catholic clergy! Something I'd definitely like to see in person one day.

All this brings home the fact that as a homeless person I'm much closer to nature and its rhythms and manifestations than I typically am whenever I'm living indoors. Even if I were to tend to a community garden plot sometime after I get back into housing, I wouldn't be quite as in touch with my environment and its elements because I'll have air conditioning and be enclosed in four walls that isolate me from the world outside even while making me feel safe and comfortable, and even able to be sometimes more the self I would act like when in sight of judging eyes. Even when sleeping on concrete beneath asphalt and enclosed (for the most part) in a lean-to contraption constructed from a tarp and a bivvy tent I can feel the winds blustering about and hear the rain drumming against my shelter and the pavement around me, even feel the light of dawn worrying open my recalcitrant eyelids. It's a subtle but profound difference, even when it is an inconvenient pain in the ass — which attitude probably indicates that even when living in the elements I'm divorced from them spiritually by my cultural upbringing born out of civilization.

Perhaps we humans are transcending this current Holocene biosphere and will create new worlds suited to our different nature, that will themselves be fascinatingly uniquely complex environments no more or less "natural" than the ones we evolved out of. If we survive.

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