Back in New York, and while there's still a distinct chill in the air, today was full of the sort of dazzling sunshine that was conspicuous by its complete absence in Miami. Had to go into the city today, and while cutting through the apartments (projects? I don't know which they are) on E. 5th between 1st and Avenue A, I spied a hedgerow of forsythia in the process of bursting into full bloom.
Since it's usually one of the first spring flowers you see, unless you're in the habit of walking around with downcast eyes, in which case you might spot some crocuses, which I also saw today. It was kind of hard to believe; only a week ago, there was scarcely a sign of life except for some buds beginning to swell on the trees, and the city still looked as cold and barren and windswept as it did at midwinter; now out seemingly nowhere, flowers are emerging everywhere. I'm supposed to be out of town for a couple more days this week, and I really am reluctant to go for fear I'll miss the next exciting development.
Although yellow's not my favorite color, I'm willing to make an exception for the forsythia; I remember as a child seeing how excited and pleased my mother would get when the two big bushes flanking the side door would burst into bloom around the beginning of April and the promise of summer that they seemed to carry with them. My mother's other favorite flower was the tulip, and she had planted them all around the back yard. I loved them too, and the year I was four or five, I grew impatient waiting for the buds to open, so I went around one frosty April morning and opened them myself. Not only was I deeply chagrined to find no beautiful flowers inside, but the following night's frost turned them all to blackened stubs and turned that year into the Spring With No Tulips. I didn't even get lectured or spanked for that one; my mother in her wisdom let the unhappy results of what I had done serve as the best possible punishment.
In other news, I stopped by the library today and picked up a copy of Moby Dick. This is a book I've tried to read several times, has been recommended highly by innumerable friends, and of course is regarded as one of the great classics of American literature. I even bought a copy of it once, but never got past the first chapter or two; I found it, or so I remember saying at the time, verbose, tendentious, and tedious. But today, I took another look at that same first paragraph that had previously only annoyed or discouraged me, and I was hooked. This is absolutely brilliant, I kept remarking to myself, and have been plowing right through the first several chapters on the subway and at dinner tonight. Apparently it was just a matter of time before I was ready or able to appreciate it. Curious, that, considering that some of the book's biggest fans I've known read it in their 20s or even in their teens, which I most definitely couldn't or wouldn't have done. Ah well, all in good time, and let's just hope I don't wind up talking like a sailor before I'm finished with it.