Spring in America, Part 1

Spring is skulking towards us...right around the corner...thereitgoesdidyouseeit!? Maybe it was just a floating white plastic bag, or a cardinal taking flight. I've been hearing the "cheer" of cardinals this past week...it seems to be a song they don't sing during the winter...only as weather turns warmer.

This is the true season of Janus...the double-visaged Roman god of doorways and change...the limnal god. We assigned him, somewhat artificially, to our month of cerebral/abstract change, January, but his workshop really is at the corner of Winter and Spring; Summer and Fall. Instead of his signposts being dates and abstract delineations of time, they are the visceral, inexorable grindings of autumn's decay, and spring's seething sighs of burgeoning green. I've been spying small clouds of pink cherry blossoms among the lingering browns and steel grays of winter in the park.

The brain too, though, to give it credit, seems to have the stamp of Janus upon it, this season...the Spring seems to be a time of blossoming intellect, curiosity and exploration. New possibilities are everywhere; in the old and in the new. Spring seems to be the proper time to consider that unique American school of thought and philosophy, the Transcendentalists: Thoreau, Emerson, Alcott, et al. You may not recognize the last thinker, but he is the father of Louisa May Alcott of Little Women fame, and the originator of the source for the Trancendentalist paper's name, the DIAL: "Dial on time your own eternity."

Trancendentalism has always fascinated me, for various reasons: the freshness and originality of its American intellectualism; their bent towards the Soul and Nature, and the almost anarchic opinions and actions that they produced. Part of the Spring of the Intellect of which they were part, was the rapid burgeoning of publishing and lectures: Thoreau, Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and many others conducted lectures to packed houses; citizens, eager to hear new thoughts and interesting anecdotes discussed, would crowd lecture halls, librarys and lyceums.

It was fascinating and refreshing, then, to find out from the New York Times, that the genre of the lecture seems to be experiencing a rebirth of sorts. Read about it here:


At their peak, lectures would draw about 400,000 people weekly. It seems that, in Springfield, MA, in 1856, that a lecture by Henry Ward Beecher drew so many people that special train service had to be provided for the throngs of eager participants from outlying areas.

We officially greet the season of Spring tomorrow, on the vernal equinox, March 20th. But greet Spring in your own way, in a transcendentalist American way: attend a lecture, and ask questions of the speaker at the end; buy a book on a subject you know little about; borrow a guide book to flowers or birds, trees or clouds, and start paying attention; practice some non-violent protest against injustice and Bigness; plant some pea seeds, water and wait patiently.

Celebrate Spring in America; celebrate the Spring of the Intellect; the season of growth, openness, newness, rejuvenation and resurrection.

the fourth samba  – (Sunday, 19 March, 2006)  

Yes brother, yes... long live Spring and those trannscends!!!

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