In like a lamb, out like a lion

It’s perhaps unsurprising that this is the year I decided that I don’t much care for March.

It’s the month when the summer sun overstays its welcome. The breezes that usher in the season in December die away. We bake. Crossing any stretch of grass that isn’t irresponsibly watered is like walking on Rice Krispies that snap, crackle and pop beneath your toes. And while I love Costa Rica’s national bird, the incessant song of the yigüírro, “asking for rain,” adds to the close, oppressive feeling of the month, along with noisy parrots wheeling restlessly around the trees.  The world is still, tired, waiting. Especially this year.

In 2013, March was the month when my daughter finally learned to feed properly. With my mother gone home to the United States and my husband long since returned to work, the two of us spent the month alone, hot, sitting in front of a fan, enduring all the breastfeeding pains and stresses that most mothers experience right after birth. I remember that bundling her into a carrier and making it to the corner, 25 meters away, to buy some juice seemed like a major accomplishment. It feels the same way now when I emerge from the house for a run or, on Sunday, go to the supermarket alone. Like new mothers, we are isolated, perpetually worried, surprised to find occasionally that the rest of the world is still there. Only this time, everyone is experiencing it at once.

As I ran through empty streets yesterday, I noticed that the clouds were drawn and dark, almost as if it were ready to rain. It didn’t – and that’s good. I’m not willing the rainy season upon us this year the way I usually do in March. The first rains bring a wave of colds and coughs and flu along with them, and I wouldn’t wish that upon our hospitals. But the clouds did comfort me. They reminded me that the yigüírros’ song never lasts forever. Neither does anything. We’re suspended, for a moment, and each new day will bring good news and bad, kind acts and stupid ones, and one day we will be released. And in the north, spring will come. And in Costa Rica, rain will fall. Drop by drop, bird by bird, the world will continue as we watch from the window.

I see people afraid things will never return to normal. I see people afraid that they will, that we won’t learn from this. I think the first group is right. but that we should be only partly afraid. I think we will emerge fewer, sadder, heavier – heavier because of all the baking, but also because of the legacies we will shoulder on behalf of people, businesses and organizations we’ve lost. We’ll bear down under the responsibilities that were always ours, but that we hadn’t felt as fully, or hadn’t picked up from the ground where they lay, ignored.

We’ll be lighter, for better and worse, with the renewed knowledge that we are small and vulnerable. A heightened recognition that we are only one part of a natural world that continues without us, virtually unchanged, if not improved.

Today I took a walk with these thoughts in my head and realized that the yigüírros sounded different to me. Friendly, somehow. Like us, they wait. They hope. They perch at the mercy of forces beyond their control. They do what they can, which is to eat, fly, sleep, and sing.

Doing any online shopping these days? Holalola is a great small Costa Rican business to support. Here’s founder Priscilla Aguirre’s take on the yiguirró. Browse her prints, mugs, umbrellas and more, here.

I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or FacebookIf you want to learn more about how to support Costa Rica during the crisis, visit my COVID-19 section, updated regularly – or for ways to enjoy Costa Rica from afar, visit Virtual Costa Rica.

 

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