Mrs. T and I missed the worst of the horrific winter just past, but we were intensely aware at all times of its viciousness. No sooner did we return from Florida at the beginning of March than our noses were rubbed in it, since we had to drive through what amounted to a tunnel of snow to get to our little farmhouse in rural Connecticut. Even now, six weeks later, a substantial patch of not-quite-white snow continues to cling insolently to the ground, and when we drove up to Connecticut last Sunday and saw snowflakes on the windshield of our car as we passed through Hartford, I briefly felt like crying.
The very next morning, though, I saw a crocus poking through the blanket of long-dead leaves that cover our front lawn. I had to forcibly restrain myself from waking Mrs. T up to tell her about it. I didn’t know about crocuses other than in theory before I met my wife, and even then it’s been rare for me to see the ones that she gleefully spies on our lawn each April. It’s customary for me to spend the whole of that month not in Connecticut but New York, covering the overwhelming crush of plays and musicals that open at the very end of the theater season. Hence I usually learn of the arrival of the crocuses of spring not at first hand but on the phone.
To actually see one for myself was not merely a treat but downright therapeutic. Never before have I survived a winter that tested my equanimity so severely. By the end of it, I was wondering whether I had finally reached the time of life when I might need to give serious thought to living somewhere other than New York, not just for a month or two each year but permanently. I was downright desperate for sunlight and warmth.
While the latter has not yet come, there was a fair amount of sunshine to be seen this weekend, and I feel confident that the last bits of snow in our yard will have melted away by the time I go back to Connecticut. No doubt I’ll be complaining shortly thereafter about the cruelty of summer—but when I do, I hope I’ll remember to laugh.
Few human beings, even those who are, like me, inclined to a comfortable evenness of temperament, are capable of enjoying things as they are for very long. We are, it seems, destined to be dissatisfied, and I share as fully as the rest of us in the common dilemma. Indeed, our inability to remember past suffering with any degree of specificity is very likely the only thing that keeps us going. I shall, however, try to recall the winter of 2015 at best as I can for as long as I can, and cling to at least a few shreds of the abject gratitude that I felt when I caught sight of the first crocus of spring.
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The opening of Benjamin Britten’s Spring Symphony, performed by the chorus and orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, conducted by the composer: