13 Sept 2013
Anchorage Beach Resort
Vuda Point, Lautoka, Fiji
What inspired Vivaldi or Monet about spring was just a concept to me until I spent a winter in Australia.
An admission here: I don’t believe in fairies. My niece is not supposed to know this, though, because she loves having me sit beside her while she watches Tinkerbell’s wonderful world of Pixie Hollow on video.
In Mia’s mind, pixie dust, happy thoughts, and belief in fairies are enough to make people, even grownups, fly. Her parents and I clarify the difference between fantasy and reality but she just gives us a look as if to say that she knows better. Recently, however, something made me understand why little girls would believe that fairies are responsible for the changing of the seasons.
I mean, neither birds nor flowers could read, and they definitely are not governed by the human calendar that announces, in this country I am now exploring, that September 1 means Springtime. But it’s as if they – the birds and the flowers – read the memo. Each day since the Beginning of this Spring, they returned to our garden more and more.
In Pixie Hollow, during spring time, fairies gently lay a blanket of color to the forest. They paint the designs on butterflies and honeybees. They remove dead leaves and coax shiny new green ones from the trees. This invites birds of every shape and color to take shade from the sun under the leafy branches, and to sing happy songs while laying eggs on perfectly formed nests.
Let me explain that where I come from, we only have two seasons in a year, aptly called the wet and the dry season. And although I have done a fair bit of traveling, it is only this year that I have had the time to ponder at the wonder of spring.
So when I witnessed the vibrant blossoming of flowers, the constant chirping of the birds, the return of leaves to trees and shrubs that looked sullen with their empty branches just a few weeks ago, I nodded to my inner toddler and thanked the fairies for doing their work well. Science would explain how plants and animals worked out when to hibernate and when to frolic in the sun, but the fairy explanation gives the concept of spring a lot more whimsy for me.
On the second day of spring, it was not all charm and cheer in my sister’s garden. I was playing in the living room with my niece when we heard the frantic chirping of some birds outside, followed by a loud thud. Together with the whole family, I went to the balcony to check. It was hard to absorb the picture before us. Three birds perched on the garden table were making loud squeaking noises at the grass, or so it seemed. Then they flew away. I noticed something straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon, that is, the outline of a bird as it crashed, wings spread wide, against the glass on the balcony’s balustrade. The impact must have been so strong so as to produce the panic among its winged friends who were obviously, just a few minutes ago, chasing it playfully.
I beat Mia and her parents to the garden. What I saw pierced my heart. A bird – could have been a pigeon- sat, unmoving, on the green grass, as if nesting eggs underneath, or resting under a shade. A closer inspection showed that the bird was being very still.
Mia of course asked the bird what happened and how it was feeling, to which the sad pigeon chirped a feeble reply. Mia jumped because the bird responded! Meanwhile my sister and I prepared bread and water for our feathered friend who merely looked at the unattainable feast. My brother-in-law advised us not to torture the bird and to remove the food from its line of vision.
Mia was so excited but we grownups were dreading the inevitable. We left the bird to sit and, hopefully, to recover. A few hours later, I saw the bird face down on the grass, its wings spread wide around it, and its eyes closed. I thought long and hard how I would tell Mia.
Surprisingly, she took the death of the bird well. Although the story fascinated her enough to talk about it nonstop for days even to her grandparents abroad, it did not devastate her. I guess she was not that attached to the bird. I dare not imagine how losing a puppy would affect her. But that story would be told another day.
After that, we continued to enjoy the abundant sunshine of spring, walking at the neighborhood park and taking photos in the garden. I am still discovering how the beauty of spring warms the hearts of people and plants hopes in hearts. Just as leaves fall in autumn, and flowers disappear in winter, they come back at the appointed time.
I focus not on death and loss, but on hope and rebirth. Just like the light of Easter can only be appreciated after the darkness of Good Friday, the warmth of spring only works wonderfully after enduring the harshness of winter.