“Winter dead, that was buried near the pole beans”

degenerate, washed by weather cycles

degenerate, bleach the deadly night shades

degenerate, prepare to take the profit

oh degenerate, oh degenerate

We moved from New York back to Texas right after Thanksgiving. That first winter, in an old house that hadn’t been lived in for years, was cold and dusty and full of bitter arguments and second guessing the whole crazy idea of coming back home after 10 years away.

Then spring happened. I remember crying a lot without warning, for no good reason. I cried when the trees started to leaf out. I stopped the car, backed up to the clump of mountain laurel I had just driven past and cried at the sweet grape-koolaid smell. I teared up at the first sight of a scissortail flycatcher. I thought my heart was going to break open when the bluebonnets bloomed, and then I realized that it was. The awful, sad winter was over and dead, and in retrospect, some of what was “us” had died with it. New York was farther away than ever but the ache was bearable. El Niño had arrived during the fall and brought a crazy wild riot of spring with it that made it hard to think, about the past, about anything. The leaves couldn’t bust out quick enough, there didn’t seem to be enough room on the roadsides for the wildflowers.

And now it’s happened again. Another el Niño, and Spring 2010 has come on like a speedfreak, from one week to the next. On my way across campus to the office, I cross three bridges, one over the San Marcos River, rushing high and fast and clear, then through the park, cross at the light, and two flat spans stretch low across ponds full of turtles and catfish, egrets stalking around the cypress knees after minnows. The resident corps of geese and ducks has expanded, bunches of tiny spotted puffballs march the banks in wobbly formations. It’s ridiculous and manic and glorious and when I’m out in it, I can’t even think straight. Which is fine. There’s been waytoo much to think about this week, to try andmake sense of, and I’ve failedevery time I’ve tried. At my desk, I stare out the window and wait till I can go back out again — a big dumb animal, one of many, happy to be alive for no good reason.

La Danse de Mardi Gras (viaPassion Fish)