This morning out on the running path several people passed me carrying signs. There was one young couple and one family group with two small kids. Their signs read Stop Trump and Protect Women’s Health and such. They were headed to the MetroLink train station a half mile away, no doubt to take it downtown to a rally. This will be a busy protest season for many people. I may participate in some, but I realize it won’t do anything. If losing the election by 3 million votes can’t convince a man that he has no mandate from the American people, I doubt that marches will. But I understand the urge to do it, and that it will likely intensify as the weather moderates.
I had been thinking about spring. It’s pretty warm out for a January day, and the first sunny day in over a week, so even though we still have a few months of winter left, it felt like spring was in the air. I thought of what my spring activities might be, aside from political protest. For many years, both as a suburban homeowner and as an owner of rural property, spring meant revving things up, getting ready to plant things, plow things, prepare soil and beds, check the lawn equipment, all with a sense of mixed anticipation and dread. Now, I have no lawn at all to worry about and no garden to enjoy.
Last year I put four pots of herbs in the window of my small apartment. I harvested and used those herbs, and plan to do so again this year. But that’s about the extent of my ‘gardening.’ So what do I have to look forward to in spring, that’s different from what I do all the time?
Fishing—I like that. Trout season begins in March. But I can only go fishing so many times. The best streams for trout are far away enough to make it a full day’s endeavor just to fish for several hours. What else do people who don’t care for lawns and gardens and orchards and beehives do when the weather gets nice?
I have thought about kites. I wonder how much this is a reversion to the joys of my youth. I used to love the thrill of feeling something so far above me tug at the string in my hand. I imagine it’s something like the thrill of flying without actually leaving the ground. But today is fairly windless, despite it being otherwise an optimal weather day, so I think the kites will have to wait.
I also wonder how expensive this seemingly simple pastime has become. When I was a kid, we used to walk to a little market down the street from our neighborhood. If you had a quarter, you could buy a paper kite for ten cents and a ball of string for ten cents. If you could get your mother to give you a worn out shirt or an old sheet to tear in strips you made a tail and were ready to take to the skies. For less than 25 cents. I’m guessing I won’t get off so cheaply these days.
But you’ll notice that as I think about what to do with my upcoming warm spring days, I am thinking about leisure activities—fishing, kite flying. In years past everything was about important seasonal tasks that needed doing. Planting the garden, weeding the flower beds, cutting the grass. Somehow I miss those things, even though they are a lot of work. But not enough to want to return to them. In my life I have never been wealthy, never actually been that comfortable: I have made a living, but I have gone from being house poor to being land poor. Never have I had the time or the resources to enjoy myself with any regularity. Now the thought of doing exactly that looms before me, and I approach it with apprehension.
I am leaving the apartment soon to get groceries and do a few other errands. I wonder where they sell kites? I may stop by and see what’s to be had, ask a few questions. It has been over forty years. Nowadays they probably have remote controlled kites. I can imagine the conversation:
‘Do you have kites?’
‘Sure,’ says the guy behind the counter, ‘what kinda phone do you have?’
‘Yeah, what kinda phone? So you can download the app.’
Or maybe not. Maybe they’re still made simply, with paper and balsa wood. I doubt it, but there’s always hope.