Parallels for City Found in Spring

Monday, April 9, 2012, Vol. 127, No. 69

It seems as if we were walking between bare trees with our collars up just the other day. And now all is green and growing in our corner of the world.

That’s the way the seasons can change in Memphis. It’s also a good metaphor for how the civic movements and issues that are the backdrop for most of our lives rise up suddenly and are gone just as quickly only to return later when the skies again grow tentative.

On these pages we often talk about power and direction and movement – manmade in most cases.

But as the world around us changes again in its own order, this seems a place to talk about a larger context.

That larger context is all around us and at this time of year is in bloom everywhere.

But it is important to remember the larger frame of reference is always present in our community.

If you doubt that, go take a look at one of the world’s great rivers that is our western border.

Later this month and again next month, many of us will gather on its banks.

First is the resumption of overnight riverboat journeys with Memphis as homeport of the largest steamboat in the world.

That is followed by the three weekend events of the Memphis in May International Festival that take place in Tom Lee Park.

For many it will be their first notice that the land by the river on the north end of the park is very different because of the development of Beale Street Landing. The flat-as-a-table park will have a hill and with it something of a different view.

But how many will take note of the river’s continuing journey south no matter the changes over lifetimes and seasons in the precise course it takes to the sea?

We now walk on land that was once where the river ran and the river now runs where foundations were once built with confidence.

Sometime in May perhaps, we might even give a second look to some of the pictures we took a year ago when the river returned to where it had been before most of us were born.

Watch our youngest citizens wordlessly taking in all that is around them, including us, as we go about the routines of daily life.

As children, our first instinct is to marvel at what later becomes the ordinary or the ignored and then to wonder why those older seem to ignore a world bursting with such splendor on an everyday basis.

The buildings are taller, sounds sharper, colors brighter. All that is seasonal is new with no idea that it will fade and then return again many times over.