You would think after forty three Aprils in New England I would learn a thing or two. But don't you know, us humans have tremendous ability for blocking out the hard things, glossing them over in hopes of a better next time. Like childbirth, April can be painful and messy and takes far longer than one would like. And yet, you can be sure we’ll greet subsequent Aprils with the same hopeful enthusiasm as we did the last. Perhaps our relentless optimism stems from what is waiting on the other side of April... May! Not quite the same as a new baby, but it sure is the calendar’s version of one.
In my early twenties I worked on an herb farm and like many plant production farms, we closed down for a few months each winter (save for a small greenhouse crew). Come April first though, you can be sure the staff returned with enthusiasm - sleeves rolled up and boots laced, ready to dig into another season of planting, harvesting, and cooking up meals for our near 100 luncheon guests each day. But the romance was short lived. It never failed that by April 3rd, most of us could be found multiple times a day hovered around the woodstove in the old barn, or the cookstove in the main house, shoveling wood in at a steady pace, lamenting to one another about the desolation of April in New England. “I’ll take a crisp, zero degrees over bone chilling thirty five and rainy, any day of the week,” we’d take turns pridefully declaring, as if nobody heard the first six people that said it.
After a few weeks of good old fashioned curmudgeoning, we’d somehow make it to the other side. We turned the calendar and the gardens came alive after months of dormancy. We ditched the warmth of the woodstove for sun on our shoulders, and even tossed aside boots in favor of bare feet on the earth. May is a thing of beauty.
But April, man... April is a tease. You never know what she'll dish up and just as you’re starting to feel chipper and head out to loosen a few garden beds, readying them for carrot and spinach seeds, you wake up to a fresh five inches of snow. That was our yesterday. Today, more snow. Several inches it looks like. April snow interrupts life in a way that January snow does not. This time of year, we shift to the outdoors and one can’t help but feel hopeful during those early days of the month, miraculously erasing the memory of last April’s labor and delivery. How quickly we are humbled though, as April rains and snows and freezes and releases an amount of mud that will surely swallow us whole. Yet soon enough, the precious new life of May will arrive, and we’ll realize our endurance of April was entirely worth it. In the meantime, we'll light a few extra candles to brighten the mood, and keep our hearts tilted toward the promise of warmer days.