The Glory of Spring in a Capitalist Culture: Loving life and the flowers that emerge from it

I have to take a moment to just step away from the treacherous topics of the day and utter an appreciation for the majestic opulence of spring. I continue to be amazed by American culture within capitalist climates and how resilient they are to positive stimulation. We have invented for ourselves a continuous parade of positive celebration which is fueled throughout the year with a new activity every other week. When I speak to foreign nationals and explain American culture to them my optimism is not a false one. Recently we just had a Super Bowl in the hardest part of winter, then some minor holidays like Valentines Day, St Patrick’s Day and so on, then there was the Final Four, and coming up is the opening day of baseball, the NFL draft, and every weekend there is NASCAR racing. But there is nothing that sets the tone for human activity more than the period around Easter when spring is in the air and a renewal of life begins. Stepping into Wal-Mart the other day the shelves were filled with flowers waiting to be planted and the freshness of a heavy rain was filtering the outside air with an ionized cleanliness that only comes after a spring time storm.   Easter decorations were complete with their vibrant colors and promises of family gatherings, and I knew that life was good.image

Spring is where all the fun starts for a human being in free, capitalist society. It’s about lawn mowers, radio broadcasted baseball games around the grill, and landscaping private property in a way that reflects the pride of ownership. It’s about fresh water and flowers as buds emerge from trees coming alive again after the stifling cold of winter. Spring tells us that we have gotten through it and are ready for the sun, the pool, and amusement parks in the upcoming summer months. I never tire of spring—ever.

I love the upcoming summer movie season where every weekend produces a potential blockbuster of some sign stimuli meaning, and then there are the holidays, first Mother’s Day, then Memorial Day, Father’s Day, then the Fourth of July. I am always a little sad when Labor Day hits in September and the WEBN Fireworks blast away the memories of summer in my downtown of Cincinnati. But the NFL starts the weekend after and every weekend for the rest of the year is a festivity of epic drama as we pick our favorite teams for Sunday clashes. Then there is Halloween and the cool air of October and all the mythology of pagan rituals long forgotten. Then there is Thanksgiving and Black Friday—time with family and all day football games around a raging fireplace. After all that comes Christmas and New Year where the world takes a deep breath and some time off work to appreciate everything and everyone in their lives only to start the whole process all over again—with every two weeks or so producing some new product of some human beings mind.

But I love most of all when stores put out their flowers for spring planting because it means more to the human consciousness than anyone cares to articulate. I love to get the lawn mower started for the first cut of the year as Reds baseball plays in the background, with drawers to my tool boxes opened for the many gadgets and gizmos I’ve picked up over time. The air in Ohio is just cool enough to not wear a jacket, but not hot enough to sweat and the sun begins to direct its rays with more precision into the Northern Hemisphere—and the plants reach out to it like fans at some great concert listening to a symphony that the rest of our solar system cannot conduct—because it lacks human beings to organize all the elements around a centerpiece of culture.

When it comes down to it, I’m not in love with the nature of what the earth provides, the rain, the flowers and the trees which spring forth in this particular time part of the year. I love what human beings do with those elements to enrich their lives—I love the creativity of the human spirit to invent something to always look forward to—to always lean forward as a means to awake each day to face new challenges. I love the way America celebrates the seasons and I wish every culture on earth would take notes from us and do better in their own cultures.

It would be fair to say that I’m rather obsessed with culture building. Most of the contents of this blog are a means to successfully recognize elements in our lives—mostly political—that allow for a successful culture. Management of resources after all is all about building a culture whether the intent is to fuel the lives of individual people with a livelihood or to deliver products to a global marketplace. The best kinds of culture are those which do both things and I never tire of contemplating the best means of achieving those elusive tasks. For me spring represents the best aspects of creation—it’s about creativity and the innate possibility for renewal.

My wife and I use our outside hot tub nearly every day—even on the harshest winter days. It gives us a reason to go outside and stare at the sky. If not for the hot tub, we wouldn’t typically spend an hour a day nearly everyday outside looking up. I love to study the weather patterns across the vast canvas of the sky, to watch the clouds form along cold fronts, or the high thin clouds of a hot day. But equally I like the menacing storms that roll in and dump a lot of rain and are propelled along by gusts of wind. From our hot tub we watch them all and the formlessness of their configurations never gets tiring. But another element that never goes away is the wonder of watching the stars come out at night as a roar of a train blowing out its horn emerges from the valley at the end of my street. I love trains because they are big, powerful, and they haul around the heavy products of mankind to markets a long way from their base of manufacture. When I hear the evening trains travel into the night from my hot tub as I count the stars in the sky on a blackened canvass I think often that out of most of those stars they are all lacking a culture—a simple train that is carrying products to market from the mind of imagination—and I feel sorry for them. I don’t think of the oceans and volcanoes on distant planets—I think about the products of human kind—and the happiness they bring to minds able to appreciate them.

I was at my daughter’s house yesterday and their dog was playing with my grandson. To cool off he lay down in a puddle of freshly placed water which had come from the last torrential downpour of the day. The dog just wanted to be a part of the water and to cool off after playing hard outside. The dog is one who was raised to be nearly human, my daughter talks to him like another person, so he tries with all his ability to be—human. But he doesn’t of course have all the senses and intellect to pull off the task and gets frustrated when he can’t carry on a conversation. I often look into his eyes and feel sorry for him because he cannot be a person—because he obviously wants to be. He would love to put on a pair of pants and hunt Easter eggs with my grandson and trade in his four legs for our two in less than a second. Then later I was taking a shower when a newly hatched bug fell into the bottom of the tub. I scooped him up before he went down the drain and took him outside. The little fella’ just hatched and being sucked down a drain right out of the gate is a rough life to live. Again, I felt sorry for the little bug, because it was just acting out of impulse toward living. But it didn’t have the intellectual facilities to appreciate the culture of spring and even though I saved it from certain death, it still wouldn’t enjoy life the way I do every day. However, that is the beauty of spring in a lot of ways. It happens whether or not we want it to and it comes again and again always offering a chance at renewal. Spring is best appreciated by the human being—and it is there that everyone should consider themselves lucky. The rest of the star laced sky would love to trade with us in our American culture and our continuous parade of celebration created by many minds for the pure service of our intellectual entertainment. When it comes to appreciating a season, I do spring more than any other for all these reasons and many more. Life is good—because through living, we get to experience all the culture of our imaginations—and the products of that enterprise never ceases to amaze me.

We bought some of those flowers at Wal-Mart, and I was glad we did.

Rich Hoffman


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