May Central Park’s Unshakeable Faith That Spring Will Arrive Be An Example To Us All

The spring will come. Really.

The spring will come. Really.

Officially, spring begins tomorrow. In actuality, it will be yet another 40-degree day in what now appears to be an endless stream of borderline freezing days. The ongoing chill is enough to sap the energy and optimism from even the most cheerful of hearts. The Observer, whose own heart is not in this category, will almost certainly lose another pair of gloves before the end of the week in an act of forgetfulness/subconscious rebellion against the never-ending winter. If the gray skies and finger-numbing conditions continue, we may well start absentmindedly leaving our coats and sweaters behind on the subway as well.

But perhaps we can all learn a lesson from the Central Park Conservancy, an organization that not only believes the seasons will change someday soon, but started acting on that belief sometime ago: planting, hauling mulch, testing sprinkler heads.

This may not seem like acts of extraordinary faith, but for those of us who are not much given to religious feeling and who find the winter not only miserable, but interminable, it is quite impressive. As the chirpy and fact-filled email that landed in our inbox this afternoon informed us: the Conservancy started preparing for spring months ago.

The Conservancy has no other choice, of course, as the Park will soon be mobbed with thousands upon thousands of visitors a day. But still. Reading the email reminded us that sometimes one must act in accordance with, and in preparation for, expected and projected outcomes, rather than based on one’s current, rather cold and unbearable situation. In other words, we should stop dwelling on the parts of the forecast that focus on, in painful detail, the wind and cold that will persist through the rest of this week, and look to the brighter side of things, like “the Green Mountains and Adirondacks getting what could be their last blast of winter.” Last blast of winter. Or at least what could be the last. (On a sidenote, we find The Wall Street Journal‘s weather journals to be surprisingly poetic and oddly moving.)

So what has the Conservancy been doing to prepare for this alleged start of spring? Planting 57,000 flowers, testing and activating 1,400 sprinkler heads, turning on eight decorative fountains and hauling vast quantities of materials: 850 tons of mulch for garden beds, 500 tons of clay for ballfields, 200 tons of crushed stone for the bridle paths and 108 tons of sand for the sandboxes. Most inspiring of all, the Conservancy is already mowing 276 acres of what appear—to the horticultural layman—to be dead lawns and ballfields. The Conservancy tells us that the lawns of snow-covered yellow-brown grass are not, in fact, dead, but like the promise of this new season, alive and growing.

kvelsey@observer.com