Already, less than a full week into it, this April has been odd. It’s unseasonably cold: although the snowdrops, crocuses, and glory-of-the-snow have already appeared, the trees haven’t begun to leaf, and I haven’t dared open the windows much less venture outside in shorts or sandals. The past few nights have been below freezing, we still have piles of snow lingering in shady spots, and the lawn looks like it’s forgotten what it means to be green.
Yesterday, the temperature soared into the 50s—not warm by usual April standards, but warmer than it has been—and at least one pair of intrepid young entrepreneurs set up the first lemonade stand of the season even though a hot chocolate stand would have been more appropriate. Spring might be a long time coming this year, but kids nevertheless will go about the business of being kids, weather anomalies notwithstanding.
Although the temperatures this week have said “March,” the angle and intensity of the sun nevertheless says “April.” In February I lamented the glaringly harsh sunlight of late winter, when white-bright light falls on nothing but gray. Now in April, the sunlight has warmed, mellowed, and yellowed, as if it were intended to fall on tender, spring-green leaf buds and blooming daffodils. In the absence of these, the golden light of an April afternoon falls instead on gilded willow twigs and the almost-blooming buds of forsythia. “Almost, almost, almost” this golden light seems to intimate; “not yet, not yet, not yet” these swelling buds respond.
This year, we’ve not been starved for light, but I do find myself craving color: anything, please, besides this dead, dull gray! “April is the cruelest month,” T.S. Eliot claimed, “breeding / Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing / Memory and desire, stirring / Dull roots with spring rain.” Right now in this early, odd April, I don’t dare dream of lilacs, only leaves: before we can handle pale purple blooms, let us cut our tender teeth on spring green. Right now in this early, reluctant spring, anything other than gray would be a welcome novelty.