Horse chestnut (aka buckeye) in bloom

If you’re looking for a way to stop a conversation during a pandemic, ask the question “What’s new.” Right now, on day 65 of J’s and my self-imposed quarantine, there’s not much “new” happening. People continue to sicken and die. People continue to lose jobs and businesses continue to fold. The divide between Haves and Have Nots continues to gape, with the only change being the light being shed on that chasm.

“What’s new” is exactly the wrong question to be asking right now. Instead, I wish we could ask ourselves “What matters” or “What remains and sustains?”

This year like any other, the trees are newly in leaf and buzzing with black-throated green warblers. Our backyard chipmunks chip and chirp, making up in fervent spring activity the long winter months they spent scarce and inactive underground. In every fruiting tree—the crabapples, cherries, and redbuds that abound in leafy suburbs like ours–male and female cardinals flit, juxtaposing their distinctive plumage with colorful spring blooms. Overhead, goldfinches spar and twitter, flitting from tree to tree as if spring days were entirely carefree and destined to last.

But these days don’t last: no days do. This isn’t news, but a perennial Truth we continually suppress, ignore, and deny. As we are hunkered down against infection, Spring emerges from her annual quarantine, just as she does every year. This isn’t new, but eternal. We are the ones who forget–either consciously or through unwitting ignorance–the ultimate truth of both nature and pandemic, and that is that only impermanence is here to stay.