April showers bring May flowers
by Ursula Feist
“April is the cruelest month,” is the first line in T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Wasteland.” I am a great fan of T.S. Eliot but I hand November the Oscar in this category. I prefer what the German poet Goethe wrote about April: “Ice thaws on the river, ice melts on the streams/they are freed again as the spring sun gleams/the valley is green with new life, new hopes.”
I like to watch and listen to the happy sound of melted streams gushing over sticks and stones when I go for my walk on the mountain. It makes me want to sing. The days are longer, the sun is warmer and the shimmering light is a sure sign that spring has finally sprung. It means renewal and a new beginning.
It is the time to throw all windows wide open without the risk of being assaulted by an icy blast. What a relief when soft April showers clean the dirty snow off the streets and I can get rid of those ugly white salt marks on my heavy winter boots. I enjoy going through my clothes closet to ponder what to throw out, give away, or buy. It wouldn’t be OK for me to think of buying sexy underwear, red ones with roses all over, just because it’s spring! What a pity…
For me it’s the time to plan my garden and visit Atwater Market to look for those delicious light pink stalks of rhubarb to be simmered with strawberries, some eaten, some frozen for November, when fruit is at a premium. How wonderful to watch children play hockey in the streets again, mischievously jumping in and out of puddles with shrieks of laughter, or showing off a new bicycle. Birds have come back and watching them build their nests puts a positive spin on things!
I fondly remember that April weekend in Paris, when we found a space on the floor of the Notre Dame Cathedral to listen to a beautiful concert. Later that day, while we sat at an outdoor café with an espresso, a friendly pigeon sent us her offering straight into my coffee cup from way above. Lots of laughter all around us. Then, May 1, there was the “porte bonheur,” that small sweet-smelling bouquet of lilies of the valley. Years ago, we actually did go to New York to get me an Easter Bonnet. It was topped with white and yellow daisies. I came across that silly small hat quite recently but did not have the heart to throw it out. I put it back into the faded, old hat box for my children to find some day and have a laugh over…I can hear them now: “Easter Bonnets? What on earth is that? Did Granny really wear that hat?”
All through my childhood, my mother and I went looking for spring coats in April. I watched people hang their bedding out of their windows to air and beat their carpets in backyards with rattan carpet beaters that sent the dust flying to the tunes of a Hurdy Girdy man playing that funny old instrument.
April is the time when Easter is around the corner and we can gleefully bite into a chocolate Easter egg and forget the diet. No more tiresome commercial jingles day in day out, coercing us to run to the stores to get that last minute present for a loved one!
Charlotte Bronte in Jane Eyre writes: “The nights and mornings no longer by their Canadian temperatures froze the very blood in our veins.” How did she know, I wonder. I don’t believe she ever left England.
April is a month to celebrate, buy flowers, get caught in the rain, – and not think about income tax!