To Be Alive in Spring

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Long nights give way to long days. The once brown and thirsty hillsides drink from the sky, producing sweet green grass my dog chews and savors as we hike up the mountain. The crisp air fills my lungs as we ascend through cow pastures and budding California oaks. We are above the town, above the houses, above the valley below. In the distance, a sweeping ridge rises from the wetlands of the bay. Further up the trail, a pocket gopher pops up, his whiskers twitching, as he surveys his home and these unwelcome approaching figures. He eyes my dog, then quickly retreats into his hillside hollow.

I am reminded how good things are born in spring. Two months ago, I only saw the bare trees, only felt the damp insidious cold attacking my insides, only heard the ferocious wind ravaging the land, leaving leaves and branches, and pieces of whatever from wherever in its wake.

Suddenly, a jackrabbit streaks across our path; my dog springs to action. I call him off, and reluctantly - trembling - he abides, incredulous he cannot follow his instinctual desire. But soon, we are in the thick oaks and the volcanic sprinklings of rocks and other treasures, and he has forgotten the jackrabbit, now intoxicated by new smells and delights: fresh cow pies, Douglas iris, maybe even new truffles beneath the oaks. Who knows? And who really cares? We are here, in this moment, in this place.

There is nothing I want, nothing I have to do or consider. Just my dog and me. This mountain we're climbing. And whatever happens to present itself next. This is spring, the payoff we almost forgot about. The reminder that out of darkness comes light. Out of suffering comes celebration. We are alive, and what a glorious thing that is.

With a Perspective, I'm Pete Gavin.


Pete Gavin teaches middle school English in Marin.