“The Robins are back!” my wife exclaimed, rushing in to the room yesterday to make this announcement.
This could only mean that Spring is here. Those readers who have patiently kept up with my ramblings will recall my blog from last July about the family of robins that had started their family on the ledge of our bedroom window. They are back for a second year and we are thrilled. Unlike last year, as there is to be no addition to our grandchildren my wife can focus entirely on the birth and growth of the soon to arrive little robins.
Do birds have the equivalent of a Trivago or an Airbnb with reviews and ratings that help them pick preferred spots, not just for Rest & Recreation but also procreation? Unlike room service and other perks that humans expect when booking their stay in a hotel, these robins make no demands of us. It is perhaps only instinct that guides their selection of a location that – to them – offers a feeling of security. A safe place where they can lay and incubate their eggs, even if in an exposed environment, comforted only by the belief that the offspring will remain safe in this abode until ready to spread their wings and fly away one day. We are honoured that they have chosen to stay with us, again.
There are many other signs, if one cares to observe, that spring is finally here. Overnight, neighbourhood trees have started displaying a hint of leaves sprouting on branches that have come alive. Crocuses are nudging aside the security blanket of mother earth and tentatively peeking out. On my way to work the morning after recent overnight April showers, I had to carefully step over the first earthworm slithering away quietly, intent on its long journey across the concrete driveway to some yonder destination. A new generation of cottontail bunnies is nervously hopping about, exploring the increasingly lush environment. Activity in neighbourhood yards is picking up and everyone is getting busy with spring cleaning chores around the house.
Life cycle beginning anew. I have resumed my walks around the neighbourhood, enticed as always by the reward of ending my jaunts to sit on my favourite rock atop the hill trail and catch my breath. This rock has been my sanctuary ever since we arrived in Canada and I first used it for rest, over 21 years ago. I sit on it, Rodin’s Thinker, surrounded by – then young, but now maturing – trees and flowers (or snow, depending on the season) to stare into the horizon over the vast lake waters. Random thoughts arise and get dispersed as other distractions crowd in. However, I continue to remain intrigued by the mercurial, transient nature of a gentle breeze or the strong wind that can be cold and hot, carry the freshness of virgin, uncharted lands or the stale breath of yesterday’s garbage from other continents, across seas and over mountains. I do not seek any scientific explanation, remaining content year after year to just sit in awe of the natural forces that pollute and cleanse, heat and cool our life-providing resource that flows simultaneously across the globe. In spite of all our bickering and perceived differences, each living being bound to others through the intermingling of each inhaled and every exhaled breath of air.
The Zen Master, Dogen instructed, “When you paint Spring, do not paint willows, plums, peaches, or apricots, but just paint Spring. To paint willows, plums, peaches, or apricots is to paint willows, plums, peaches, or apricots – it is not yet painting Spring.”
A favourite song from the movie 1947 Earth by our very own Deepa Mehta, that resonates with the sounds and spirit of Basant (Spring):