• Daniel Ethan Finneran

Gardenia

April 2018


Exiting the air-conditioned atria and its halls, the artificially albeit comfortably-lit corridors, the rooms whose temperatures are tailored to us just so—so that our implacable human flesh might not sweat nor freeze nor pout, I walk out into Spring. Embarrassed, I know not at first what to say. Hardly, if at all, had I even noticed that she’d arrived. A more exceptionable and a less hospitable friend she’s likely never known! I cringe at the very thought of my own inattention, but it’s true. I dash to consider it, only to acknowledge just how incorrigibly aloof I’ve become. One foot in her light, one still in the door, I blush, look down, and excuse myself from her gregarious warmth. How could I have been so distracted and withdrawn, so lacking in sagacity, so absent of sense? I, in my human bubble of stucco, lumber, and steel, seem to been sapped of a natural life. I feel as though I’ve been etiolated of a vibrant hue that, through decades of a slow and deliberate evolution, I should have painted daily upon my skin. I search for some other exculpatory line, but in dealing with Spring, I can’t bear admit to her anything but the truth. Of course, she wouldn’t suffer anything less than that and that alone. Not only is she vernal, but she’s veridical.


But I give it a try. I demure, and I try to explain away my obliviousness. I start by blaming it on Winter—that recently, mercifully deceased monster of a thing. She knows it well. Winter, of course, is to her quite familiar, if not familial; She and he are siblings and are kin. Without one, the other isn’t longed for or prayed to be hastened away. Needless to say, this year in particular, her brusque brother was a most frigid and uncompromising beast. He was blustery, scathing, and unrelenting. He pounded the defeated land with snow in a profligate manner. But again, she knows this and she knows him better than I. Throughout those chilly months, during which I shivered and waited for her return, she too, like Persephone beyond the grave and beyond the river Styx, bided her time. She too counted moons, tides, shadows, and groundhogs until her day would come, when brother Winter would fatigue or simply relent. When finally, he did, and when Hades agreed with the seasons to release her from his forceful grasp could she hope to escape, to ascend, and to appear—if only for a short while—in the realm of those of the living, of the loving, and of the free. Then and there she might be able to send her insufferable Winter brother away.


But in waiting, I became impatient. Perhaps, better yet, I simply became complacent. The amenities available to the modern man can have this effect. I stayed inside with central heating, plastic faux-flowers, essential oils, and computer animated ambient sounds. To these novelties of society, I was attached. Should Spring arrive (as inevitably, she did), it wouldn’t matter; I was transfixed. I was like an apostate fallen from nature and converted to the divine law of technology. If ever I did think about Spring, and about her alluring nature, I did so as an indiscreet infidel.


Now, seeing her before me and seeking her sympathy, I accuse her dastard of a sibling Winter for my mistake. Have I no shame? I impugn him for having caused the weeks and the darkness to be so very long and my joys so exceedingly brief. Was my own misery not my own? Longer still were the endless, countless hours spent in my office at my desk—toiling, drafting, and procrastinating with all of my listless toils, drafts, and dreams. Winter tried, with a combination of his own nature and light, which was at once both barren and cold, to infiltrate my bones but he could not. His own subtle, frosty, peculiar beauty couldn’t entice me. Briefer still was my attention to noticing and investigating the spinning and changing world outside of my view. I huddled away from the window and barred the door. In so doing, I blinded myself fully. I should’ve known, though, that quickly, though never quickly enough, Spring would eventually make her return. She would come and inaugurate fresh life. And before I could hope to anticipate her resurrection and plan for a reception fit for a mother and a queen, that’s precisely what she did and I met her unprepared.


She arrived sneakily, playfully, and furtively; she passed before my unseeing eyes completely unseen. Still, I wouldn’t be so irresponsible as to claim that she was premature, but rather, that I was remiss and that I was too late. It’s for this reason that I’m oddly inarticulate and uncharacteristically coy as I try to explain myself to her as I step for the first time into her light. Fortunately, with her penetrating eye, she sees right through me. Maybe words are unnecessary. Maybe I need only bask with her and to enjoy.


Regardless of my negligence, she greets me, as she does every man, with a radiant and buoyant smile. She exudes a warmth, unconditional and immemorial, that I can’t hope to measure nor reciprocate. Her gentle winds, like timeless caresses, re-acquaint themselves with my skin. Her fragrant scents, floral and omnipresent, rush to tickle my nose. Her chirping and her buzzing build into a soothing crescendo—into a symphony of bird, insect, person, and sound. Her milky-white gardenias unfurl while her ruddy-red tulips pop. Her anthers stand virile and erect while her pistils await pollination. Sprouts begin to sprout while plants stand verdant and strong. Trees swell with turgidity and pride while the crystals on the lakes begin to sparkle. Her world is full of fertility, levity, beauty, and joy.


All this and more with me she shares, but only if I embrace it. Her prescription is as simple as it is demanding: log-off, shut-down, and clock-out. Step outside and inhale deeply. Do so until my lungs meet their capacity and my soul is intoxicated with revelry. Do so until my viscous blood thickens with life and my restless heart skips a beat. Only then can I soak in her bounteous splendor and become dizzily infatuated with this world. Only then, like Thoreau or Rousseau, can I bathe in the transcendent and romantic pools of her realm. Only then can I sortie from this this banal and sheltered life, within which I find myself besieged every day by walls, numbers, commercials, and screens. As I step into Spring, I promise her to live in each season as it passes and to embrace each and every day as it comes. I commit to her that I will drink the drink of her nectar and slake my curious thirst. I will taste the fruit of her gravid trees and give more fuel my insatiable hunger. And, most importantly, I will resign myself to the influences of each: to the ripened fruit, to the saccharine drink, to the burgeoning season, and to this glorious Spring.

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