Ten degrees has made all the difference. I lock my house with a silver key, not wearing gloves and not needing to. I walk down my street with its barren trees, listening to the provincial sound of my boots against the concrete. In a few months they will sit abandoned in the back of my closet, banished in favor of less sturdy things, strapier and feminine.
Spring is a smell: wet pavement and trees about to fulfill promises. It’s the sound of skateboards traveling over buckled concrete, attached to boys in baggy jeans, shirts rippling away from their backs. Bicycles carry pretty girls with their long hair and heavy coats; their giggles come and go like a fire siren, loud and blaring and then immediately gone. Cars pass with their windows down. Rap music. Pop music. The man in the burgundy Subaru is back, screaming show tunes out his window while he makes circles around Bedford Avenue.
I check the branches overhead, looking for telltale green buds to confirm my hope that we have reached a clearing in the weather. Just two hours ago I was planning my escape to Nicaragua or Mexico – any place that only required a duffle bag filled with shorts and sunblock. But I can’t leave the city now, not after putting up with two months of garbage. This is the pay off, today and on.
The park is covered with developing grass, remarkable amounts of green poking through intensely saturated dirt. Prickly brown pods litter the ground beneath trees I don’t know the names of. Oak, maybe. The pods sit on the dirt and wait to be swallowed whole or decomposed. We used to crush these underfoot as children, making them explode into a fibrous mess. “Itching powder,” we called it, and would jam it down the backs of our enemies in fits of nasty laughter.
Provoked birds fly overhead in an intense flapping of wings, the sound of rustling taffeta or falling stacks of paper, traveling together on an unseen path, riding currents I cannot feel.
Old Polish men congregate around green benches, talking in their voices that sound like tapes being played in reverse, warbled and hugging to consonants. Baseball bats connect with white leather balls with that dense aluminum ping. Sickly pale faces crane their necks towards the sun, praying for their greenish translucence to be alleviated. Lovers walk down sidewalks holding hands, coming up for air.