We never bothered to turn on the radio when we returned home from church. In the soothing quiet of the living room, the only sound was of the rustle of the Sunday newspaper. I had just finished reading the funnies when my husband Arnie, put the sports section down and announced, “It’s a beautiful spring day. I’m going to go for a walk, do you want to come with me?”
Eagerly jumping to my feet, I responded, “You bet I do! Just let me go and grab a sweater.”
“You won’t need one.” Arne pointed out. “It’s warm today.”
I nodded in agreement as I replied. “This whole month of March is warmer than usual. The last of our winter snow melted away last week.” With a chuckle I admitted, “Once the snow is gone, the refrigerator breezes go away, too.”
Sunshine on the deck behind the house felt as warm as a summer day. The breeze was pleasantly warm as well, so I needed nothing more than the light-weight, short sleeved shirt I wore.
Arnie and I strolled down the road, commenting on how we’d think it was summer if the trees had had leaves. We turned at a driveway to stroll along a lane beside a farmer’s field. Robins, red winged black birds and tree swallows sang, fluttering in the tree branches along the fence-line. Sun-warmed soil gave off an earthy scent. I exclaimed, “I want to spend as much time as I can outside during the month of April!”
The lane continued into a wood lot. Even without leaves on the trees, the tall gray trunks, occasional balsams and tangled branches made me feel sheltered. Birds we saw and heard here, were different from the ones in the open field.
The lane led us to the river. Arnie and I didn’t want to cross, so we walked alongside it, enjoying the gurgles and swirls of water around the boulders. At first the banks along the river were steep, blocking our view. When the land became more level we saw beautiful wood land on our side of the river.
My husband marveled, “The ground is level and there aren’t saplings, just big trees like a park.” He was right. All the woodland around the farm where I’d grown up was uneven. Those woodlots were filled with hillocks, marshy spots and fallen trees.
I exclaimed, “It’s so beautiful and silent like the inside of a church!” Somewhere in the stately tree tops, a bird with a clear, beautiful voice sang a solo. Sighing, I suggested, “Our good Lord must have written that score just for us!”
We leisurely made our way back to the road and turned toward home. I enthusiastically planned the soon to begin month of April, “Let’s take walks whenever we have a chance, now that the weather is nice!”
The following day dark clouds filled the sky and a cold rain began to fall. Chilly winds whipped and worried the tree tops back and forth. I expected the warm weather would return after a few days, but it did not. More and more cold rain and wind plagued Wisconsin until the entire month of April was past.
I often stood at the kitchen window looking out at the gray and black sodden yard, thinking about how often people are fooled by mother nature. The year my sister-in-law planted her garden in April came to mind. Karen had been so proud. Her five-inch-tall tomato plants looked healthy. The day after I visited her, we had a killing frost.
Other tricky years came to my mind. In the 1970’s we had a surprise blizzard on Mother’s Day, blocking Washington Avenue with a drift.
But not all spring weather surprises are bad. Tree leaves were fully out for Arnie and my wedding anniversary on April 18th in the mid 1980’s. I don’t remember that happening before or since.
Spring is a time of hope and trust for gardeners and farmers. Although we know that mother nature can be a fickle dame, she manages to fool many of us year after year.