Poor Will's Almanack: March 1-7, 2011

Mar 1, 2011

Poor Will’s Almanack for the third week of early spring, the fourteenth week of the natural year

Every winter, the two koi in our small pond stop feeding when the water temperature reaches the low 40s. Both fish are about a foot long. Zelda is a golden orange, Emmett is white with black markings. They lie side by side in the deepest water near the pump, slowly moving their fins but not responding when I walk close to them.

Zelda and Emmett seem to have no worries. This is their eighth winter in the pond. They seem to know that there is nothing they can do to change the course of the season. There is nothing they can do if the pump stops working or if the pond freezes solid in a long cold wave or if I simply forget about them. Day after day, they remain motionless facing west waiting for spring as though they really do know that April will bring the mild west winds that will eventually quicken them.

Sometimes, I wonder if they have reached enlightenment and if they have transcended passion and desire. Do they instinctively count their breaths or the cold fronts or the sunsets? Do they remember spring and the warmth of the water?

I find myself jealous of their winter season, of their apparent indifference to danger, of their ability to use the cold to their advantage. I am jealous of their single-mindedness, of their resignation, of their deep patience, endurance and trust.

I am jealous of their bodies that simply tell them to look west, to expect without questioning or analysis of precedent. Watching the koi every day, I pick through the pieces of their mentoring, place them one way and then another and then another in the scattered puzzle of my mind.

Next week on Poor Will's Almanack: notes for the fourth week of early spring. In the meantime, if you're patient, spring will come.