On Spring and Crocuses
I don’t have much of a life, I guess. I’ve been waiting all winter to see some form of life spring forth from the cold, almost-still-frozen earth. Normally, the first things to spring forth are the crocuses, and most years these hearty little flowers start poking their heads up through the hard, brittle soil near the end of February.
This year we’ve had an incredibly long, nasty, cold, brutal, snowy winter – I’m sorry for all the adjectives, but there’s just no other way to impress upon you how long and draconian this winter has been. Anyway – the crocuses didn’t poke their green shoots up in February – in fact, they barely were able to muster enough courage to make an appearance in March. On the 12th day of March, one courageous little crocus raised up his little green arms and broke through despite winter’s lingering icy grip.
Spring hath sprung.
Many people think I’m nearly insane, and by the time I’m done, you probably will too; I cannot help what you or anyone else thinks, and what does it matter anyway? We are all in this thing together – I mean you are on the same short ride on this tiny globe spinning through space as I. Even when I’m sitting quietly in my broken-down recliner, watching Marcus Welby, M.D. reruns, I’m still traveling thousands of miles per hour – riding on this round blue bus through the blackness of space. The Earth spinning around on its axis; the Earth is orbiting the sun, and the sun is orbiting the center of the galaxy; the galaxy is moving through the universe, and all the while I’m sitting in my chair draining a cold bottle of Miller 64.
All this motion…what’s it all about? When I think about things, it makes me think about other things. Every time I walk out my door and see the crocuses breaking free of the still-frozen soil, it not only reminds me that winter’s end has to be somewhere near – it makes me think about life too.
Why do we have crocuses? What purpose do they serve? They bloom and die before the weather warms. They are only around for a few days. They come and go so quickly. What does this mean? What kind of evolutionary processes are at work here? Why does evolution produce so many mistakes? While crocuses are rather pretty little flowers, they seem to have no purpose. It seems to me that this applies to a lot of things that live a lot longer than crocuses – coconut palms come to mind. I really don’t like coconut. But even coconut palms provide shade and probably homes to various little insects and parasites.
But crocuses? They bloom and die while it still too cold for even the nastiest of bugs or parasites to venture out. They feed nothing, they are home to nothing, their beauty is transitory. But all beauty is evanescent, isn’t it?
Why do we have crocuses? Maybe we have crocuses to make us think — and wonder.
I wonder about a lot of things. Like, for instance, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. I had occasion last weekend to see “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, and like the crocuses growing in front of my house right now, it made me think.
In “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” we have a young lady who lives with seven male midgets in the woods. Now imagine someone discovering a young lady living with seven midgets, all men, in a forest near you. How long do you think that would be allowed to go on? Can you imagine CNN and Fox news covering the “breaking news” of the discovery of an isolated cottage, deep in the woods, where a young woman lives with seven male midgets?
And then you learn she’s hiding from a queen who talks to herself while looking in a mirror?
And then there are restroom doors which open inward. I’m not a builder or a contractor – I can barely use a hammer or a screwdriver – but it seems like it would be such an easy thing to make sure all restroom doors opened outward.
You have no idea what I’m talking about do you? You think I’m insane, don’t you? I told you that you would, remember?
It makes no sense to have public restroom doors open inward, and I’ll tell you why:
I’m in a restaurant and I have to go to the bathroom. So I get up and go into the restroom to take care of things. And being a conscientious type of guy, I always wash my hands when I am done – just like my granny taught me.
I get done washing my hands — and I spend eight minutes drying them off with one of those “sanitary” hand-blowers. It’s quite an ordeal, and my food’s getting cold. I am ready to leave and I see that the door opens inward. I hesitate to grab the handle on the door to pull it open because I just got done washing my hands.
I know that not everyone washes their hands after going to the bathroom and some are not very careful about their bathroom habits. Now, I stand at the door and I think about how many dirty hands have touched and pulled open that door and how many germs are waiting to crawl all over me the second I touch it. And I’m betting there are some really nasty germs on there; I know people.
There are no paper towels, just those awful hand blowers, so I am trapped in the restroom until I figure out how to pull that door open without putting my clean hands on it. There’s always toilet paper. But that means going back into a smelly stall and possibly touching something even worse than the door handle. I need to get out of the restroom without getting cooties. (Do you remember that word from elementary school?)
I decide to use my shirttail. I cover the door handle with it so I don’t have to touch it with my clean hands. I briefly wonder if the cookies will stick to my shirttail, but decide that I don’t eat with anything that the shirttail might touch. So I conclude that the shirttail method is my best option — though I briefly wonder if cooties can crawl through the cloth of my shirt and get onto my hands.
I open the door. My food is cold.
Everything has a purpose; everything has a reason for being, even if it’s not immediately clear what that reason is. Ours is not the reason why…and all of that.
Today the tiny green shoots of a single crocus appearing for the first time made me think. Now I know the purpose of a crocus.
Aren’t they beautiful muses?