Saturday, April 13, 2013

The cruelest month.

April. Cruel? Damned right it is. 

 Long Mountain. Friday 12th April.

This year at least, Eliot's opening lines to 'The Waste Land' seem hugely optimistic:
'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 
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding 
A little life with dried tubers.'
Lilacs stirring? No way. Nothing. Dream on. True, a few of those 'dried tubers' have come to life, daffodils and crocii, somehow forcing themselves through frost and snow. How powerful those shoots must be to break through the iron-hard soil and into the light. Such is the urge to grow.

There are very few other signs of spring up here on the top of our low mountain.  I estimate we are perhaps a month behind previous years, even taking into account that more than once in previous years a late fall of snow or frost has shaken us out of our complacency and literally 'nipped things in the bud.'  Robert Frost observed April's ways in 'Two Tramps in Mud Time:
'The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you're two months back in the middle of March'
If I look carefully - very carefully - I do believe I can see buds on the big trees in the dingle. There's a new denseness about their branches, a fullness that I swear was not there a couple of days ago.  Then I swivel my head and see drifts of snow, lying in the hedge-bottoms, if not in the garden then near enough to remind me that we've a way to go yet. Sigh.

It would be too easy to sink into gloom and pessimism on seeing winter's dull days stretch into a long-awaited spring so I'll snatch any small joys while I can.


Cro Magnon said...

I imagine that things are to change very soon. Here we have a forecast of temperature in the early 20's for the foreseeable future. My veg' garden should now dry out, and allow rotovating and planting. With all our fruit trees also in flower, I'm just dreading another late frost (like last bloody year).

rachel said...

Soldier on; it will happen eventually. Step down from the mountain now and then to remind yourself of how it is for lowland dwellers! (In our case, wet, windy, with frogs......)

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

After these last few months , I'll take what I can get !
The odd bird can be heard warbling hopefully , though yesterday one did sound weirdly hoarse , as though it had the Universal Sore Throat .

Chris Stovell said...

We haven't had snow like you, but this winter has felt so very long that it if I thought it would always be so bleak and cold here, I'd seriously think about moving... fortunately a few bright (if freezing days) have reminded me of what I love about living here.

Twiglet said...

You are definitely on the wrong side of the valley! No snow left over here. Those drifts are amazing. I thought it was going to be warmer today but we have only had wild wet gales so far.

Mac n' Janet said...

Thank you for the Robert Frost poem, one I did not know, but it sure fits the weather we've had this year.

Fennie said...

Let's be thankful that we are not dependent on our gardens to feed our families. Never mind two months back, let's go two centuries back and hope the winter roots will not all have rotted and fret about whether our beasts will die before there's enough grass to turn them out. That's when April was really the cruellest month, the darkest hour before dawn.

Pondside said...

Winter has gone on and on in Canada too - but not here on the Island. I read about your terrible spring and think of your beautiful garden - are those wonderful hares alright? I hope they didn't suffer from the cold.

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

What a fabulous Frost poem! I didn't know that one. Thank you for introducing it to me. Yes, we are about a month behind too although the daffodils are out now.

Frances said...

Spring vigil is still underway over here in NYC, too. Yesterday, I actually had to put on my down-filled coat again to the keep the chilly winds away.

However, those same winds did bring us a beautiful sunny blue sky day...maybe the warmth will be arriving to stay soon.

Thank you for both April poems, Mountaineer. xo