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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Vulgar vibrancy

I'd like to apply this phrase to our cold and slow-arriving spring and to the skunk cabbage pushing its energetic and slightly ugly way through the muck and melted snow of late winter. In the woods of Maine it's really the first sign of spring, generating its own heat to fight its way through the icy earth, from nothing to green in an explosion of cells. But the phrase does not originate that way. It was used in a recent email from the son of a dear friend, writing in the terrible weeks between the diagnosis of his father's brain tumor, and its excision.

"Vulgar," I assume, because of the base intentions of the tumor, and the crude, angry feelings spilling over everywhere; "vibrancy" because of the tremendous outpouring of help and hope from family and friends, and the chance to be with his parents and his brothers, walking on the beach, eating his father's famous stew, senses heightened and alive. Like most families this one is scattered, brought together principally by holidays, this time by an illness, scattered again after a successful operation, warmed by the blessings of this terrible curse.

The first sign of spring in Massachusetts is the crocus, fragile yet strong even under the snow of the April Fool's Day storm, clinging to color and joy. Vulgar and vibrant, hope is the thing with leaves. More power to us fools.

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