Posted by: jevcat | March 20, 2020

Spring in Time of Pandemic

As we all hunker down and work from home while the corona virus pandemic advances, like all of us, I am also trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy and contact with family and friends, all of whom are, so far, fine (knock wood).

We have not been at this long, but it is already, at least to me, taking on something of    the character of the old joke about the man who falls off the top of the Empire State Building and, as he passes each floor, calls out to watchers “Alright so far!”  (Insert nervous chuckle here.)  But the reality is, more people will die, maybe people I love, maybe even me.

And yet, and yet:  It is spring!  And the earliest spring in more than a century – maybe because we need it more this year?

The first day of spring is celebrated in different ways everywhere, and one festival I have only been introduced to in recent years is Nowruz.  A pre-Muslim Persian holiday that survived the conversion to Islam, it’s observed across a wide swath, from Afghanistan to India to China.  I was introduced to it by one of the women I work for (she also introduced me to Persian food, which is another, and delicious, story!), I’ve participated in Nowruz celebrations at the UN, where I work, and I’ve grown to like it.

Some of the traditions surrounding Nowruz are similar to some for Passover and Easter but Nowruz is also the Persian New Year, and it seems to rejoice more in the renewal of the natural world that spring brings.  And we could use reasons to rejoice about now.

Here in New York and in many places in the world, life is seeming dark and scary to a lot of us right now, probably because in many ways it is.  It may seem an odd time for celebrating the new year, but, in a different way, so is the Western new year in January.  Maybe we need the celebration more in such times than in better ones.  Stuck inside most of the time by health decree, maybe chances to be outside mean more; maybe those shoots struggling up, green, from the dark are telling us something, and the flowers on the branches that were bare not that long ago, too.  Winter never lasts forever; spring comes, is here now, in fact.  Even in the midst of everything else, spring is still here.  It won’t last forever, but it will be back next year.  Before this one goes, I am going to try to see it, from my window and on my government-sanctioned daily “solitary exercise” walk, enjoy it, and remember that new life is happening all around me, all the time.


  1. Thanks. Love! In it together (apart). Francesca

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