The eternal return

March 14, 2010

For the last three days, it’s rained in Northern Virginia. Before that, though, an elemental change announced itself.

When I went outside on Wednesday, I thought I had walked into one of the more nauseating scenes in Bambi.  The sun was shining.  The trees were swaying.  Squirrels chased one another across my front lawn.  And the birds – the birds were everywhere, and sounded almost hysterical with happiness.

I arrived home that evening, and my teenage children acted almost human.  I heard my wife humming a song while she washed the dishes.  A bizarre expression wouldn’t leave my face, no matter what I did.  It’s called, I think, a smile.

What was going on?

Then I saw my beloved Nationals had an exhibition game – and I knew it was that time again.  Spring is just around the corner.

It’s been a brutal winter, like none I can recall.  Nature looked like something out of Edgar Alan Poe:  premature burial, with strange lost things emerging like skeletal fingers out of the snow.

What the birds were shrieking at deafening levels was “I can’t believe I’m still alive after that horror – I really can’t believe I’ve got a shot at mating again!  Woohoo!”

When I was in school, I was told that the annual return of spring had inspired resurrection stories like those of Dionysus and Isis.  For me, it’s the Washington Nationals.  Think of it:  how can a team, stinking dead and buried in 2009, come back in a glow of hope and expectation in 2010?  This transcends the order of nature – a mystery and a miracle beyond explanation.

The moment won’t last.  The snow will be forgotten.  Teenagers will remember to act like the lower primates.  God knows, the Nats will lose again – they have yet to win a single game in spring training.

But everything has been ratcheted up several notches.  Because of spring, life moves to a higher plane, our step is quicker, our encounters more intense.  It’s resurrection on the installment plan, until – alas – we are paid up.