The return of green
I have always thought that T. S. Eliot was mistaken: April is not the cruellest month. I’ve always seen it as exciting, a happy month, although that may have a lot to do with the fact that my birthday falls in the middle.
So yes, there is birthday cake
and also Easter;
and cherry blossom.
Best of all, all things considered, is the return of green to our world.
After such a snowy March, spring was very slow to get going: the daffodils flowered more than a week later than last year. More snow and hail came in mid-April, but was followed by several days of extraordinarily warm sunshine. (70 degrees F/ 21 Celsius: summer temperatures for Scotland!) We watched leaves uncurl overnight and grass grow almost before our eyes. By the end of the month, Spring had caught up with itself and we were at pretty much exactly the same stage as last year. A day or two of hail and snow on the hills last week didn’t do much to dampen our spirits. ‘Well, it is April,’ we reminded each other. In April, anything goes as far as weather is concerned.
I wonder if perhaps May is in fact the cruellest month. (I’m talking of course only of the weather, and only of the weather in my corner of the world: a parochial take on Eliot’s phrase.)
In May, we expect summer to get started. We expect greenness, flowers and sunshine. What I forget every year is that May – like April only without the well-it’s-still-early-in-the-year excuse – is often also cold. Not freezing; I mean it rarely snows below the hilltops this month, but we still get frosts to nip those tender young shoots in the garden. And I’ve just learned that last Sunday’s cold, wet and windy weather meant that a full half of the lambs born that day on our hill farm did not survive. That is cruel.
At home, meanwhile, we have shelter (unlike the poor lambs) but my husband turns down/ off the central heating, and we often don’t get around to lighting a wood stove in the long light evenings, forgetting that they turn chilly after nightfall. So I sit and shiver in my spring-weight jumper, thinking how much more cosy one feels in autumn and winter.
But there. Who could feel nostalgic for any other season when you step outside every morning into a world of fresh green and birdsong?
In the last few days of April, the beech leaves began to unfold like tiny soft fans from their pink husks
and the larches pushed out sprays of brilliant emerald.
As the first bluebells, violets and forget-me-nots dust the woodland floor with shades of blue, in the pastures the new grass is so green, so extremely, hyperbolically green that it seems it needs a new name: after the drabness of late winter, mere green does not describe this intensity of colour.
And of course, it is the wet days which make this green possible; and when the clouds clear and the sun breaks through there is proper luxurious warmth in it at last, and I remember again how delicious, how kind, is this merry green month of May.
You might enjoy Blessed Beltane.