Springing Into Action


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Sometimes on a Saturday night, you find yourself lifting weights and watching James Brown on Soul Train.

We’re not supposed to admit that that’s how we spent the prime night of the week. There’s a whole city out there to prowl. Restaurants. Performances. Movies. The scene. But there’s something to be said for an occasional weekend in which your only venture outside is to the porch for the morning paper.

My most recent quiet weekend concluded with a small Sunday dinner that included an extra place at the table, one for a brand-new Detroit resident who moved here from D.C. because she wanted to. She’s not a native returning to the fold. She just likes it here. Questioning Washingtonians partly understood why she made the move when she showed them photos of her very nice — and very affordable by D.C. standards — new address.

We sat by candlelight talking about her fortunate timing, getting settled before Comerica fireworks light up her skyline view and bicyclists and pedestrians materialize seemingly out of nowhere.

We’re on the verge of the open season, when our insular lives are suddenly exposed through open windows and lighter clothing.

In a National Public Radio interview, I heard a young boy who had survived childhood cancer say, “If you’ve been close to death, you understand life more.” In a small way, the same is true of going from winter to spring and from sequestered days to the sidewalk society of warmer weather.

When you go through a fast, as in the deprivation of winter, you don’t want to taint the purity with junk; you want quality.

One way to accomplish that: Shun radio trash talkers who incite anger, foster division, and get rich doing it. How differently people decide to spend their life’s work. In contrast to being a paid blowhard, someone else opted to create the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway, about 800 miles from the North Pole. You may have heard about the frosty repository. There, tucked away in a vast arctic warehouse, sleeps a stockpile of the world’s floral and food seeds capable of growing a new future, should the need arise. Now that’s an admirable way for someone to spend one’s time and energy.

As spring unfolds like a bud unfurling to full glory, we become human versions of fledgling plants sprouting from beneath winter layers.

When you go out, as wise old advice suggests, always dress as if you might meet an old flame. That old flame might well be spring coaxing us along as if we’re seeds emerging from a long sleep and reaching for brighter days.


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