Thursday, April 7, 2011

April is the Cruellest Month

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding 
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing 
Memory and desire, stirring 
Dull roots with spring rain. 
Winter kept us warm, covering         5
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding 
A little life with dried tubers.

-T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland, 1922

I've always thought T.S. Eliot got it right about April. It's hard to kickstart a new season after being housebound and nearly mummified all winter. It would be easier to stay inactive, inert, and dumb than trying to force yourself into all that fresh activity seemingly all at once. Winter lets you burrow and hibernate without expectations and judgement, but spring hurtles you into the raw open air with a swift kick in the ass when you least expect it, whether you're ready or not.

Spring is finally here. The spring peepers have been chorusing in the evening for over a month. The maples have set red winged seed pods, the spicebush are that weird greeny-yellow, the redbuds are turning pink, and the serviceberry is white. The bluebirds are skirmishing with the tree swallows, my rhubarb is a foot tall, and the yard needs to be mowed. Someone has been sampling my daylilies, the carpenter bees are at it again, and the male goldfinches are so bright they make your eyes hurt.

One day it's 78 degrees but drops to 36 at night, followed by a high of 52 and a low of 44, then a high of 45 and a low of 28, and finally it gets back up to a high of 68. Because seesawing temperatures are a hallmark of spring, along with that yellow film of oak pollen all over the cars. And the wind...holy cow, do we get wind here in the spring at our new house. I keep making the mistake of thinking that a high of 62 degrees will mean I can work in the garden that day, only I've forgotten that it will take at least late afternoon for the temperature to climb up that far and the relentless wind will blow at least 10 degrees off the high of the day no matter where it tops out. Nothing says "fickle" like spring weather.

All last month I kept saying that I'd be perfectly happy if the temperature would just climb up into the upper 40s or low 50s during the day. I didn't need much, just constant daytime temps in the 40s and 50s and some sunlight. 

Well, I lied. As it turns out, I do very much need temperatures in the upper 60s and low 70s right now. I cringe to think of wearing heavy jackets and gloves outside, let alone keeping a heavy sweater on inside the house during the day. I want warmer temperatures so I can stuff all that heavy outerwear back into the closet for six months. I want some bright sunshine with a gentle spring breeze, and not that gale force wind that keeps ripping up our little valley to plow into the southeast corner of our house. 

The calendar tells me it's April, and so do the spring peepers, redbuds, and bluebirds. It's time to put away all this winter foolishness of late snow flurries and sleet, night temperatures below 32 degrees, and the threat of heavy frost on spring flowers. Bring on the warmer weather....and don't be the least bit surprised when I get fickle and start complaining about the summer heat and humidity.

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