Tuesday, May 4, 2021

April Delights

 This winter was long, longer than most, despite its relative snowlessness (another reason to read apocalypse in the tea leaves). March brought no relief. It never does. But April, despite what Eliot said, is perhaps the kindest month. Warm breezes and wild flocks migrating north, even in years when the snow hangs around until Earth Day (this year the old snow was long gone, but a new dusting sprinkled down on the 22nd). And though I'm a Leo and a summer girl through and through, April may be my second favorite month. As the world begins to wake up, so too do I, turning outward and uncurling from a winter's introspection, which always, inevitably, leads to moroseness. And so I thought I'd take stock of what's waking me up and bringing me joy this April. 

My father-in-law is a hot air balloonist. But that does not mean he hands out rides in the basket like candy. I've been up only once, long, long ago. Earlier this month, when he was taking the balloon for its post-inspection trial flight, he took E and Z along for the ride. C and I served as chase crew, and it was like a small miracle to see our two youngest children ascend into the sky in a rainbow.

April is the month the birds return, and with no leaves on the trees and none of those pesky other b-words trying to suck my blood, it's the month for bird watching. I made a resolution to bird every day this month, and I've managed 18 so far. A first-of-year bird appears almost every time I go out. This week's new arrivals: yellow-rumped warbler, belted kingfisher, American kestrel, broad-winged hawk, and hermit thrush.

Yesterday I stalked a velvety chocolate-brown mourning cloak through the woods. These butterflies overwinter as adults and are always the first to appear and a sure sign of spring. I was amazed a few days earlier to see a little blue butterfly, a northern spring azure, perhaps. I chased it through the field, it flashing luminous blue upper wings while I tried to sneak up to take its picture. Now I'm aquiver with anticipation of butterfly season.

I have no doubt that social media will usher in the downfall of civil society. Nevertheless, it has its good points. For instance, I've been keeping a close eye on the flower buds of trees and shrubs in the woods around our home and snapping phone photos when the buds open and sharing them on Instagramand Facebook. It's made me much more attentive to the slow unfolding of spring, and I'm discovering that there's much about tree flowers I've never noticed, like the flowering twigs of aspen and yellow birch are high out of reach, and oak flowers, which come out after the leaves, I've never seen before.

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