We had fallen for the lure. A day before the Vernal Equinox, there were plenty of inklings of spring. The robins, even before this, had grown plump and plentiful and were everywhere seeking and pulling plump worms clean from the earth. The Pileated Woodpeckers were bashing their heads against the locust trees and, in the next instant, tearing down the mountainside like some blood-crazed kamikazes. Even the lowdown rabid dogs scarcely bellowed but were resting their convulsing lungs.
But by Sunday, the forecast had changed and, with it, our resolve. Who knows how many inches have fallen since and how hard the bracing wind has blown? Who knows how long the power will stay on before it flickers on and finally off? Who knows whether our wood will last, our ready supply of candles and gallons of water be enough?
Dinner plates set out before us, we give thanks and praise to hardiness. Had we not left New York City, how little our characters could have been fortified by circumstance, tested by challenge upon challenge, recast by situation. Industrial civilization has weakened the understanding of most who must thereby rely on everyone but themselves. ‘Let thou be dependent,’ the siren seems to enjoin. I used to think that courage mattered in this unsettled time. That was as true then as it is now, but it was not toothy or bloody enough. It didn’t resound with the bare forearm colliding forcefully with the head of the attacking dog: this represents the facing up to the force of reality. I now think that courage spells out the ability to face up to things: as much to the losses in one’s life as to the night terrors, as much to the uncertainty as to the bounty.
Educated force is graceful hardiness, and the courageous shall inherit this newly emerging earth. It will be the job of the hardy to till the composted soil with care.