These Empty Spring Streets

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I’ve always loved the quiet streets of the early mornings in the city. Before the majority of the crowds are awake, out of their houses, and scrambling to get to their places of business.

These quiet times, especially in the cold darkness of winter mornings envelopes me and gives me the peace I seek in life. Alone, usually with my thoughts, having just stepped off the train and dislodged myself from my morning’s reading.

I turn the thoughts and words over in my head, finding their meaning beyond what the author wrote, the meaning applied to me and my prism of perception.

Or I remember to be mindful, at one with the present and feeling my footfalls on the hard pavement of the sidewalk. Aware of the noise of traffic near and distant. Perhaps a bird here or there in the fall or spring, but in winter the sounds and smells are stark and beautiful in the cold.

Today is different though.

Spring is here, with it the sun is rising as I walk the streets. The calmness and quiet is eerily separate from what I am used to. The trees bloom with a fragrant plume. I smell the soil and musk of freshly laid mulch in the city’s flower beds.

But the streets are hollow, there is anxiety and fear in the faces of people I pass. Or quiet resignation that life is strange right now. A few of us, so many fewer than normal, dart to one side or another as we pass. Kindness and concern in our eyes, but no one welcomes anyone else.

There isn’t safety in tribes right now, solitary space is what we have been told to seek. A strange spring indeed.

The usual teeming as people finally break out of their winter habits, shed heavy coats and welcome the warming sun — is gone.

Replacing it, is the surreal nature of forcing one’s self inside, shut tighter than winter quarters. Fighting against the urge to congregate under the blossoming trees and greening grasses. Unknown how long this strangeness will last, unease as we walk quietly and quickly among the buildings.

Trying to find moments of meaning, or usefulness, in order to remind ourselves of a semblance of agency in the world.

Better though to embrace the fate of the world out of our control — pause to enjoy the changing of the seasons, welcoming a shift — but hesitantly walking back inside, avoiding others as we embrace the unusual feeling of a solitary spring morning.

Doctoral candidate, integrating Data Science in the public sector. Government executive, leader, life experimenter, creative tinkerer.

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