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Over The Edge

It is almost spring, I think, as I step outside in the early morning. The trees are budding, the tips of their branches frothy and green. The birds have begun emptying the feeders with ravenous speed. These obvious clues, these visible hints do not convince me, however. I have been deceived before and the memory is sharp. I have no intention of remanding my big coat to the hall closet just yet. By evening my resolve has weakened. I am walking the edge of the yard in near darkness when a soft breeze floats in from the west over the empty field. It pulls gently on my hair and tickles my bare arms. It is a trigger for a rapid succession of memories all associated with spring. I am ready to give in – infatuated with the ficklest of seasons – but in that moment, the very minute in which I am turning my face into the breeze, my brain whispers, “This is not spring. It is only the edge.” Edges can be dangerous places: the edge of a cliff, the edge of a knife. To live on the edge is to live without regard for safety or propriety. In the days when people, even the smart and educated ones, believed the earth was flat, maps labeled the space beyond which explorers had not yet navigated with the simple declarative statement, “Here lie dragons.” The threat of fire-breathing reptiles was, apparently, the strongest possible warning against getting too close to the edge. I take a couple more deep breaths and go inside, wondering what could possibly be dangerous about believing in spring. A number of years ago, a sweet boy and I were having a conversation over breakfast during which I asked him how things were going in first grade. He shared that he liked “all the math” and reading because “that’s the most important.” “But,” he continued, “I don’t like fairy tales because they always have a happy ending. It’s not like that.” I still remember feeling as though I’d been slapped. Even first graders, it appeared, know when they are being lied to. And that, of course, is the danger of the edge of spring. The edge can go either way. The edge isn’t committed to one side or the other. The edge can lie. Later, after all attempts to fall asleep have been hijacked by the mental replaying of every lie I have ever been told, I tiptoe outside. What is left of last week’s full moon is covered by clouds. An owl, roosting deep in the branch, hoots softly as a night bird of some kind screeches from nearby. And the breeze, the same teasing breeze, wafts across the yard, up the steps, and curls around me like a hug. It is said that there are only two ways to die – with a broken heart or with regret. I made the choice long ago. The edge of spring may slice me open, but I will never be sorry that I got close enough to bleed. Copyright 2022

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