For over twenty years, our family has been the proud caretakers of a couple of desert tortoises — Patrick and Wendy. Every year we place them into hiberation at Halloween (October 31). This involves basically getting them ready to go in a box in a safe, dry, warm place and leave them alone. Then, on St. Patrick’s Day, we bring them out and let them enjoy the world again (March 17). It’s a long, deep sleep for four-and-a-half months.
Whether or not Patrick and Wendy think about life outside that box while they’re in hibernation, we sure enjoy the idea of bringing them out. It’s a rite of passage for the family. It means that the warmth of the sun and the longer days are upon us. Seeing these two tortoises roam throughout what we call the Tortoise Shire really lifts our spirits.
This year’s return seems even more special. Not only are our two friends re-joining our family, we feel like we can relate to them more than usual. All of us are coming out of hibernation as well.
Here in Los Angeles, it’s been an entire year since many of us stopped going out. The whole time has been very tough on people, necessary as it was.
Here comes the sun do, do, do
Here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right
That’s the familiar chorus to many people’s favorite Beatles song, “Here Comes the Sun.” As George Harrison wrote in his brilliantly simple verses addressed to “Little Darling”—
It’s been a long cold lonely winter
It seems like years since it’s been here
The smiles returning to the faces
It feels like years since it’s been here
I feel that ice is slowly melting
It seems like years since it’s been clear
A metaphor can only stretch so far. When they come out, Wendy and Patrick will not remember dealing with masks, hand-washing, and sanitizing everything we touch. They won’t know about the more than 500,000 Americans who have died. They won’t remember the dinners not shared with friends or get nostalgic about the last time they went to a movie theater. They will not ever have experienced Zoom fatigue. Neither of them will have filed for unemployment insurance or lobbied for a Covid relief bill.
So, there’s that. All that can be said in the here and now is that we’ll remember how friends and fellow citizens did all that and more. Most of us will be more thankful than ever before to see that long, cold, lonely winter beginning to end.
We’re not done quite yet. We’re still in our boxes waiting to be let out, some more than others, but the ice is slowly melting.
Stay safe, be kind to each other, and remember that this, too, shall pass. That’s the way of the world that George Harrison told us about so brilliantly.
For another way to remember St. Patrick’s Day, check out this new article: