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OnWords: 'Spring'


It seems like it will never arrive. But once it does, spring seems like the the only possible way to be.

We use the word spring for that time of year when hope, as we say, proves that it springs eternal, when the vernal shows the trace of Persephone returning from the underworld.

The word spring comes up again and again.

The springs in your car help determine its ride, how compliant or stiff, how bouncy or smooth. Spring, then, is also about movement.

In the Winnie the Pooh books, a certain tiger tells us that among the many wonderful things about Tiggers is that “their bottoms are made out of springs.”

Springs are resilience, but they are also life: springs of water sustain us when no larger bodies are nearby; springs were a necessity for those traversing the plains, often proving to be enough to found entire communities. The healing qualities assumed of mineral springs complete the cognitive loop, allowing the ailing to bounce back into life.

In Taoism, this ability to bend and not break, to come back after a blow, is one of the best qualities a person can have. Springing is the opposite of the kind of rigidity from which one may never recover.

The cyclical nature of the action of a spring—the so-called spring rate—can be plotted on a graph, a resonant frequency.

In the oscillations of spring we hear the music of the spheres.

Lael Ewy is a co-founder and editor of EastWesterly Review, a journal of literary satire at www.postmodernvillage.com, and a writer whose work has appeared in such venues as Denver Quarterly and New Orleans Review and has been anthologized in Troubles Swapped for Something Fresh.