Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Thirty days hath September, April...
And April does seem a long month, and one always filled with disappointed expectations. Just what are these expectations? Warmer weather, of course. That's why, last Saturday, in a fit of fifty degree pique, I replaced the glass window in the front screen porch with the bug screen. We haven't opened the front door since. I peer intently at seed and seedlings, willing them into growth, but nothing happens. Clearly I lack the gifts of the Prince of Wales. I have cleaned the barbeque grills (well, almost), re-hung the wind chimes that by December were driving us, and probably anyone within half a mile, crazy; shrubs have been trimmed, leaves and winter debris cleared, and decks swept. And despite today's slight mild humidity there will be a chill in the air for at least a week and more.
Why do some of us get impatient with April? Simply because we are tired of the frozen extremities of winter and ready for the thermal luxuries of summer. Spring, being a harbinger of such things, had better hurry up in coming!
How present tense our wishes are! Writing The Waste Land, TS Eliot taught us:
April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Desire we can understand in our rush to summer idyll and beach towels, but memories? They are usually short, in that we forget winters past in the notion that this last one has been the worst. And I'm not as convinced of that as the local morning coffee meetings would proclaim. Besides, April is both a month of surprises and moods. Philip Larkin, the twentieth century English poet, teased about April in An April Sunday brings the snow:
An April Sunday brings the snow
Making the blossom on the plum trees green,
Not white. An hour or two, and it will go.
And so this disappointment seems to be perennial. April comes and we want more, but more is not immediate. So the month remains elusive. Sir William Watson, forgotten by many, yet a romantic man of his day reminded his readers (shortly before he was rejected for the post of Poet Laureate:)
Laugh thy girlish laughter
Then the moment after,
Weep thy girlish tears.
I, for one, have no definite opinion, no ax to grind. Each day I walk past a small, stumpy shoot that I inwardly call the "season tree." It knows when to bud, and it has not done so yet. Wiser than me, it is a better announcer of spring than any weather forecast or coffee gossiper. And if small trees could read, this one must have read Hal Borland.
April is a promise that May is bound to keep.
Yes! Now I think it safe to put away the snow shovel...
Posted by Tim Lewis at 8:25 PM