April Is a Temporary Guest

After the long stillness of winter, spring somehow manages to catch us by surprise. Each year, without fail, the crocus is first to push through the cold earth announcing an end to the winter that felt interminable. Yellow, violet, and white buds seem to say, ‘Ol’ man winter’, it’s time to leave’. How they brighten the mornings! And, every year they multiply, spreading their prettiness. Next to welcome the season are the daffodils that were planted one autumn a few years ago. One dozen bulbs have become four dozen and how attractive they are. They light up the front of the house with their sunny gold. Passersby turn to see the crowd of bright blossoms that wave in the slightest breeze. It won’t be long before the Lilly of the Valley will spring up beside the daffodils. They, too, have a fragrance that tells everyone that winter’s somber season has gone.

Poets like Edna St. Vincent Millay, Emerson, Wordsworth, Sandburg, Blackburn and others created their convivial ode to spring. They, and many others, have tried to describe the beauty of spring but there are few words that can describe the fragrance of spring. The lawns green up and my neighbor’s Magnolia tree’s fat buds are preparing to burst into their familiar violet flowers. They don’t like that tree, however. The blossoms don’t last long before they plop down in masses that have to be raked away. But, that’s because the Magnolia tree belongs in the south. It was adapted for the northeast by a clever botanist and it sold well.

Walks around the lake in the park close by will resume with more pleasure where there is solace and calm despite the fact that others are doing the same. There are benches that give us views of the shimmering lake, Canadian geese and other birds that flock and swim and forage on the newly sprung grasses. The playground across the lake has children climbing and swinging on the various playground equipment.

Though not in great numbers, the Petunias dazzle us, too, with the range of their palette: reds, white, and purple. I never pick them. They belong outdoors, free to adorn the space where they were first planted. My daughter Sophia and I like to plan a pilgrimage to the New York botanical Gardens to enjoy their well kept grounds that feature an extravagant display of peonies that come in white and magnificent magenta. Of course, there are many other spring flowers but these are the ones that make spring worth waiting for. Why not visit the botanical gardens in New York? The only flowers I cut and bring into the house are the Forsythias that have created a wall between my yard and the neighbors. An armful of branches slipped into my favorite crystal vase makes a cheerful display in the house. It brings a sense of quiet and prettiness into the room. I make an ‘X’ at the bottom of each branch to better absorb water.

The surest part of spring is packing away sweaters, coats, jackets, and boots that seemed tired from constant use. May and June are usually filled with attending graduations and special holidays like mother’s Day and Father’s Day. This year will not, of course, be celebrated in the same way. But don’t be discouraged. What better way to enjoy the season than visiting places where beautiful flowers and places of quiet repose await.

Best about spring is that I can now hang the wash outdoors, finally. There is something reassuring about sheets and towels dried in the sun. I carry them all inside, fold and put them away and feel I’d done something untouched by the modern age. Winter and summer, my mother hung clothes out on a line stretching from the kitchen window and across the alley to the brick wall opposite. There’d be soot from the chimneys or they’d be frozen stiff in the winter. The only ‘best time’ I remember about spring when living in New York is knowing that summer is coming and school’s out for the season. Every season has its merits. We just have to find them. Like guests, we’re so glad to see them and so glad when they go home.


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