Back from Hades


April 17, 1991|By DOUGLAS P. BRUNS

The first warm day of spring set me thinking. Spring rituals run like deep currents in the gene pool of humanity. As a species we serve notice to winter. We take a stand: Winter -- get out! Enough! Then we celebrate; we have festivals, partake of Dionysian rituals. We create myths; we plant, dance. We think about our lawn mowers.

In fact, we think about all the projects waiting for us; the spring ritual for moderns. The lawn mower, for instance. Last fall I borrowed my neighbor's mower for the last two trims. My mower had lost its tune. Get your mower tuned in September? No way. Something almost decadent is such a thought. So now, come spring, I'll get mine tuned. In fact, maybe I'll get a book on small engines and do it myself. That would be the early-spring thing to do.

Then there is the door bell. Another project. It still works. But you have to depress the little metal strip until it makes contact and rings. One of the kids -- ''not me! Him! He did it!'' -- tore the plastic cover off. Unlike the mower, the door bell is used year-round. But I confess, I've let it go.

There is something about spring that does not let things go any longer. The just adequate becomes ruefully lacking in spring.

And of course there is the dog, a thick male golden retriever with the embarrassing name of Cleo. (The kids named him. It's a long story.) He could get fleas soon. I had better dip him. And maybe I'll put down some pest and insect control in the lawn. Perhaps I'll fertilize the whole yard.

I need to trim the maple in the front too. It is so full the grass below it has died. The little kids love the mud. They dig nasty little holes and plant twigs and sticks in it. But it is spring. We need green, not brown.

Winter is good for a lot of things. I got some reading done: The new Updike novel, a Tuchman history, a bit of Hemingway again. The sap runs deep and still in the winter. It is a time to reflect. But now it is spring and time to get moving. In Greek myth Adonis returned from Hades in the spring. Maybe I can clean out the garage.

Douglas P. Bruns writes from Baltimore.

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