Some Days the Flowers Sleep
If I were to put a religious cast on it, perhaps there is an atmosphere of pilgrimage to the whole thing. People who look as if they have not been outside a building or vehicle in months emerge to convene with nature, to smell and to touch, to use their limbs to the point of exhaustion, to fling themselves, squinting, onto whatever sunlit expanse of fragrant earth they select to tramp.
In everyone's memory, these Easter weekends are endless and always - or nearly always - sunny, encouraging the mass-frolic and enhancing its picturesqueness. It seems that this year, however, is one of the exceptions - to be forgotten in the long run, to be shunned by later-day nostalgia and buried in that "or nearly always" clause.
But in the now, it is happening: weather so bad, so rough, so thoroughly "rotten," that the hillsides and forests and shorelines stand bare, conspicuously bleak in their lack of colourful anoraks, that the wind howls in place of giggling children's voices.
My head bent low over the handlebars, I brave a trip to the shop before it closes. In the brutal headwind, the mile-long ride requires a great deal more time and energy than seems probable.
Outside the shop the customers are few: a woman and three young children. They appear to have come from a nearby house - she on foot and her offspring on tiny trikes, each one of them looking exhausted now, cold, and dangerously close to a tantrum. The trikes upturned, they shuffle and squirm now beside the windswept flowerbed, the mother pleading with each to keep still while she zips up their coats. At that point the youngest - a daughter - wriggles out of her grip and, with a tragic wail, runs to the flowerbed, pointing at a row of tattered tulips, felled by the wind.
"Oh no! Mommy, mommy look - are the flowers hurt? The flowers are lying down!"
And without missing a beat the mother scoops her back up and replies: "Ach no. The flowers are asleep, pet. Flowers need to rest."
Disaster averted, the group heads inside the shop for whatever last minute provisions they need before everything shuts through Sunday. And so do I, before pedaling back. I observe the muddy skies and the empty fields and hillsides, and the battered flowers in the neighbors' gardens. Before they reflected my own frustration at a "pointless" long weekend devoid of long bicycle rides. But now I shake my head and laugh at myself, arriving home to clean and write and knit and sit in other people's houses by the fire, talking.