Monday, March 31, 2008

Catalogue of Green

It is a catalogue of green today. In a painting workshop in Oxford one time, a breezy New York instructor told us never to use green straight out of the tube, it would look fake. In an artist magazine one time, I read an entire article about how difficult it is to mix shades of green. Just consider: the yellow-green of the awakening shrubs is different from the serious green blades of bulbs preparing to flower, which is different than the evergreen trees, which is very different from the brash boldness of spring grass, which is, in turn, different than the vines growing up the corner of a house. Some have blue in them, some have yellow, and some greens are so dark they seem purple. Spring is an immodest season, flirty in forsythia yellow, surprising in hyacinth purples, blunt in nubial dress.

Other notes:
On my winding, hilly commute to work, I slowed for what appeared to be road construction vehicles. Turns out it was a backhoe and a truck - to remove a dead deer from the ditch. Which made me wonder: what does the highway department do with roadkill, exactly? Is there a big roadkill state depository?

Death downtown: pulling into the parking lot today, I noticed several unfamiliar vehicles parked at strange angles, and a bevy of construction workers standing nervously along the balcony above the sidewalk. (Above our front office sit several apartments that open onto a walkway leading to the stairs down to our sidewalk.) A police car was quietly parked to the side. My mind went straight to break-in or death. So - this being a small town - I walked up to an SUV where a woman sat and asked if something was wrong. She told me a man had died. I attempted to quell the morbid urge to find a way to see the body and sat down at my desk to begin the day. A bit later, my boss came in and inquired what all the fuss was about. When I looked out our door, I saw that more vehicles had arrived - including a fire truck and what I thought was a regular black SUV. Until I saw a man unload a gurney from the back. Apparently coroners use regular looking SUVs now. I accidentally squealed "ooh, a gurney!" to my boss and planted myself by the door to unabashedly rubberneck. They brought the gurney down and the well-meaning fire dept. clumsily tried to load it - almost creating disaster - until the coroner deftly took it and slid it into the custom vehicle. A small, portly woman with poorly dyed hair stood to the side, crying, hands to her face, then neck. I slipped outside, waited until the policeman was done talking to her - "doesn't look like foul play, looks like a heart attack or something" - waited for her to ask the medical examiner questions, then asked, "do you need a chaplain or clergy?" She hesitated, wavering, then said, "no, not right now," in a voice both decided and uncertain. I told her we could contact someone if she decided she needed someone later. There was a blurred mix in the situation - local excitement, something different on a Monday morning - and human grief at a woman's loss of her brother. Grass withers and flowers fade, but the Word of the Lord stands forever. The cruelty of loss is that when grief takes hold and strangles the life out of you, it seems a taunting mockery that flowers continue to bloom, and the world keeps on spinning. But bloom they do, and spin it does, until the day that tears are wiped from every eye. There are many shades of green. Some flowers in new life, some grows over ancient graves. And in God's humor, he mocks death by resurrecting what was lost.