Like everyone in New York, I had given up on spring, but when I woke up this morning, it turned out that the glaciers were actually retreating. The hellebores, flat and limp, were equally unhappy about the winter, as was the Norway spruce, whose boughs littered the ground. Even in retreat Nature is a beautiful artist, I thought, as I admired the graceful curves of the disappearing ice. At the same time, it was difficult to overcome my disgust about the soot, a result of the sludge-burning boilers that for inexplicable reasons are still allowed to operate in the city. (There's a direct correlation between apartment density and childhood asthma rates.) I only pondered this problem for a few seconds, knowing that I would soon retreat inside, where we had installed storm windows and an air-filtration system. One thing about living in New York is that you have to learn to pick and choose your battles.
Besides, the soot brought into relief the sculptural qualities of the disappearing ice. (The conservative viewpoint.) The hellebore, a model of tenacity and forgiveness, was preparing to flower!
I was startled by a snow puma stalking the landscape for prey.
In the front yard, the eastern sun illuminated the dead leaves of the columnar pin oak. I know that I could never have human offspring, because I'm already filled with anxiety about our plants; it's normal for pin oaks to keep their leaves throughout winter (a sign of bad health for most trees), but I noticed some disturbing ruts near the base of the trunk (not pictured). As we did every spring, we would fertilize and pray, which I suppose is what parenting is to some degree about.
The block gleamed in the eastern sun, making it easy to ignore the mounds of trash being released by the melting snow. (Not pictured.)
Recently I was asked to review a new novel by an author whose work I had greatly admired in the past; unfortunately I found the book to be seriously misguided, particularly with regard to the author's understanding of non-heterosexual attraction, which the author seemed to think was a matter of simply enjoying someone's company, perhaps by watching a movie together, talking about shared interests, or meeting for lunch, i.e., the sorts of things humans of all sexual persuasions do with their friends. The author, like so many members of our society in the modern era, had clearly been ruined by the entertainment-industrial complex's failure to portray same-gender attraction with any degree of truth, candor, or insight, and was now unable to understand the not-very complicated principle that sexual attraction -- by definition -- for all people means that you want to have sex with someone. Having lunch together -- even if it's a very good meal, even if there are LOLs involved -- is not enough! The book was a BIG disappointment, in other words. My dilemma was that I had never written for the (very reputable) venue that had asked me to write the review, and I didn't want them to think that I was just blowing it off; at the same time, however, I'm opposed to "hatchet job" book reviews unless the book in question is a bestseller, which will almost certainly not be the case here (thankfully). In the end, I decided to send the review to the editor -- to show that I had done the work -- but with the suggestion that he not publish the piece. The editor agreed with my proposed course of inaction. I felt relieved. I didn't want to make a new enemy; I would just pretend that the author had never written this book and continue to focus my attention on the past.
I walked around the block, where I admired the rendering of a new building that may or may not fill in a vacant lot in the not-too-distant future. In the year 2014, it seemed that optimism was easier to find in real estate than in literature.