Hooray! April is here—the first full month of spring’s dazzling green rush. Good news for us outdoor types, and I pray a welcome dose of natural encouragement for everyone wallowing amid the weight of these troubled and uncertain times.
Everywhere you look, life is being reawakened and called forth from the warming earth.
New England poet John Engles says April endows in all of us “a sense of bulb and rhizome, root, runner, and seed reclaiming themselves—and a million, billion bursting buds.”
Indeed, vernal April brings resurrection and renewal, reward and promise. April is winter’s faith personified, our hopes and dreams turned into blessed reality.
Listen! That faint, lambent hum you hear is the earth suddenly thrumming with life.
April comes waltzing in, and plants begin to react to the marvelous green-blood infusion of chlorophyll, which now starts ascending in a life-giving rush.
Lawns abruptly turn a vibrant emerald, and the heretofore sparse grass thickens. Trees, which only a week earlier were a lifeless and skeletal gray, now swiftly change as sap rises and buds swell. Maybe it’s just me, but I think even their outer bark sometimes brightens in hue.
Countless willows are putting out early leaves in shades of electric chartreuse. Poplars and cottonwoods become sprightly green. Elms sport a lively brown. Young buckeyes poke through the leaf duff, revealing tightly-furled crimson-tinged leaves which always look to me like miniature umbrellas. Meanwhile, down in the hillcountry, whole forests are blushing crimson as innumerable red maples bloom.
The buds on my backyard lilacs seem to swell and grow bigger with each passing day. And the driveway forsythia is a riot of brightest gold.
The season’s first delicate wildflowers are starting to appear, spackling meadows and woodlands with their pastel hues. Bloodroot, trout lily, violets, colt’s foot, toothwort, blue-eyed grass, spring beauties, bluets, cress, Dutchman’s breeches, marsh marigolds. Landscapes become spattered with daubs and clumps of color, while their names sweeten the tongue with delight.
Alas, spring’s many wildflowers are but fleeting gifts—ephemerals, their appearance heartbreakingly brief. To enjoy their transitory pleasures you must get afield on a regular basis since their individual schedules are limited.
April is the month of quickening life. From roadside ditches and vernal pools, spring peepers will call vociferously. Little frogs no bigger than a thumbnail, with operatic voices as expansive as the season. Soon they’ll be joined by trilling toads, equally diminutive, equally loud.
Bees come a’humming around the daffodils and crocus.
Dawns are an increasing symphony of birdsong. Robins, cardinals, sparrows, wrens, plus a dozen additional fellow choristers all combine in glorious cacophony.
Just which birds make up any particular choir depends on whether there’s a woods, meadow, or wet thicket nearby. Nor does it matter whether or not the birds in question can can truly sing. Every species contributes—even blackbirds, starlings, crows, and jays. All are compelled to get in on the rhapsody, adding their unique notes, both procreative and territorial.
Birds and bees, frogs and toads, plus a dawn-to-dusk fortissimo multiplicity of singing birds, along with the wildflowers and greening plants. All serving to mark April’s profound seasonal shift—a change as unmistakable as stepping from darkness into bright sunlight.
Though the river is still high and muddy following last week’s rains, the little brook that loops across an old field up the road, runs clear and freshet-full. Its chuckling voice, as it tumbles in sparkling cascade down a small riffle, is filled with adventurous merriment.
A few mornings ago, I took one look and I immediately wanted to cancel my day’s plans and go fishing. Surely, I reasoned, if this jump-across rivulet was in such lovely shape, I could find a slightly bigger creek in similar condition where a fellow might toll up a pugnacious smallmouth!
Early-April invariably spawns in me more than a few such moments of piscatorial fantasy. I only wish life always allowed room for their indulgence.
I’d like to hold April—somehow stall and contain it until I’d savored each of its pleasures, gorged on its sights and smells and sounds, satiated my senses in its bounty.
Yet, time passes swiftly. If you want to relish April, you must do so now, within its allotted span. Take a break from the constant barrage of depressing news. Go out, take a walk, cherish the enchantment of life and earth resurrected.
Jim McGuire, a nature columnist, resides in Englewood, and can be reached at email@example.com.