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The Unofficial End of Spring

If Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer, then it must also be the unofficial end of spring.  If not in the calendar days to count, but the ways to count our unofficial end of springs.


This end arrived quickly.  Not so long ago, a zoom meeting attempted to celebrate spring’s beginning. 


"A simple question today.  What do you like about spring?'  This connection activity was an invented conversation, a type of artificial coating. 


In childhood memory, I saw the clustered seeds on the ground.  I was told more than once.  I was told often, “Don't touch the fluorescent corn kernels.  It's poison.” 


Their fluorescence wasn’t green, but a reddish pink. 


Eventually it was my turn.  I never said I wanted a turn, but no one cared that I didn't care for this game.  "Hmm. My dog likes the porch in the spring.  And I, I like to watch him."


"What does he like?"  


"I'm not sure.  I think just being close to outside. There's nothing to see, just the field across the road."


Somehow the conversation turned to green and growing and smells and traffic and sewage spread.  The kernels I wasn’t supposed to touch somehow found their way inside my mouth.


“I don't like what spring is the beginning of.  Fields sprayed on windy days.  Choked dust.  Roaring engines.”


A thin coating cracked, both hard and soft. 


“Industrial farming,” escaped my lips.


The poison quickly spread through my veins.


"The porch.  I love being with my dog on the porch."  I swallowed.  Slick.  Crunchy.  Smooth.  My stomach turned a metaphoric shade of green.


"Green, there's no better color for grass," Dad said.


Except if we had always known another color.  An ‘other than’ color.  Any other color, but green.  Green was all around us.  That was the problem, the always known as best made something official, unofficially.


Another morning, I stood in the plowed field, surrounded by the very modified type of grass, the so much changed grass that its ‘green’ was all the same.  Small tips of someday stalks were already visible in their characteristic shape.  I had assumed the machinery in our field was spraying.  I hadn't realized the field had been planted.  I squinted back towards the old pig building at the field's edge.  Amid many rows, one path was visible. 


“Follow the yellow brick.  No, follow the green road,” I said.


When I was a child, The Wizard of Oz was on television every spring.  This swirling strong storm broke open a dream of technicolor possibilities.  Its brightness was fluorescent.  An emerald city only the beginning of the story.  On the weather map, green was the better color.  More welcome than yellow, orange, red.  In recent springs churning air was too characteristic, a once tourist, now official citizen, unofficially, of spring.


My dad loved the porch in spring too. 


“That tree has filled in real nice.  So much green.”  He used to watch the storms darken the sky without the meteorologists’ colors’ code.  Now, he unofficially mourned destruction from storms ago in a cycle like the seasons.


"They let you have all kinds of trees in town, but not out here."


"Who in town says that?" I asked.


He never answered this question.  Except, he had, often.  "Trees are for forests not farms." I didn’t remind him his uncle once said.  My skin burned.  Bits of something caught in my throat.


"Fine you build a parking lot."


"I don't want to build a parking lot.”


January was spring in Guatemala, though perhaps not officially.  I had ridden countless miles in the back of pick-up trucks through cultivated expanses and terraced highlands.  Much less green and yet much more of its color.  In contrast, the fields my dad exalted were well controlled lawns he despised, at least officially, by definition.   


I continued, “I'm just saying it’s artificial.” 


"That's food."


Most days, mint was a water thief.  Today its seeds held bread for the hungry.


"Really?  You're going to make that case for mint?" The irrigator came on filtering the light.  An over the rainbow shimmer. 


"Corn then."


Seeds scattered, free of their poisoned shells. What was the color coating for seeds these days?  Redish pink?  Or something less visible?  Much had been hidden in the Emerald City.


"That's for ethanol," I rubbed my eyes free of the sensation my tongue could not escape. 


"You don't know that."


No, I suppose I didn't.  I rubbed my eyes again.  I attempted to refocus, to distinguish between where each row blended.  I could not find a path, officially, to anywhere.  Somehow my conversations on the topic were always losing their way.  A hot air balloon wandering, I was always in multiple conversations at once.  The green we saw.  The green that was absent.  Still, unofficial beginnings and endings had to go somewhere. 


A Memorial Day weekend full of storms marked the end of spring, unofficially.  My dad shook his head.  “No more good springs.”


At least not by past definitions, officially.


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