Signs

My soul likes to look for signs.

Three days ago, under a robin egg sky, our yard burst with birdsong. Through the window I saw —one, two, three, four, five!— red-breasted robins perched in the trees, evenly spaced, like a sentry.

The air was cold, but the sun shined brightly.

Spring is near, I thought.

Metaphorically, too — mask mandates are soon coming to an end. We’ll be able to breathe again.

The next day, around that same time, under another robin egg sky, a light snow began to fall. Far in the west was the dark gray of an impending storm, but up above? Clear blue. The snow didn’t stick, because the ground was too warm.

A rainbow is near, I thought. Either that or the apocalypse.

Then I learned about Greg Abbott – not only his dangerous and discriminatory attack on trans youth BUT ALSO how he used these precious children to distract from the story of how he priced gouged vulnerable Texans during last year’s deadly winter storm.

This morning, in the dark, my son said: “I want to jump on the trampoline with you today! But oh, it’s covered in snow.” “That was two days ago,” I reassured him, “and even then, it didn’t stick. We’re past that now. It’s almost spring.”

And then, rubbing our eyes, we saw our yard (and trampoline), snow-dusted.

Not the way things are supposed to go, I thought. And then the news: Russia invaded Ukraine.

We opened the door to the yard, my son letting out a gleeful whoop as his bare toes touched soft, crystalline snow.

“It’s the perfect snow for snowballs!” he shouted.

“We can play in the snow at school!” his brother concurred.

And it occurs to me: of course snow is not evil, even when it is ill-timed. Robins are not liars, even if they sing too soon.

No, the changeability of weather, of nature, has nothing on the wrongs committed by self-serving, powerful men who refuse to take responsibility for their actions.

We think we can predict the weather, read the signs, but nature is going to just keep doing her own beautiful, restorative thing.

But men in power? They are not mysterious. We can see the storm coming, and we know better than to pretend the skies will stay blue. Putin? Abbott? Come on. We saw their moves from miles away.

Yet predicting the evil moves of men brings no joy, not least of all because our forecasts do not give particulars. We cannot predict or prevent the individual bodies who will be harmed by violence and death. We can’t prepare for the loss of very real, beautiful, human lives.

We see the storm, but won’t know its full impact until we’re cleaning up the rubble.

“Gah. Global warming,” my husband announces as he wakes to the snow.

Ah yes. We predicted this, too.

Later, above the frosty ground, a robin’s song cuts sharply through my dark musings: bright, beautiful, undeterred. I follow the song outside, and I am met with a chorus of robins. Chickadees. Crows. Even a hummingbird hums merrily above the branches.

Despite it all, the birds will keep singing.

So should we.

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