Now That April’s Here

It’s raining right now. Beyond the droplets on my window pane I see skies the color of dirty cotton, and hear the wind, which I know to be from the north.

Still, I am upbeat because spring — and all that comes with it — is well and truly here. Showery days aside (which, after all, is what defines April), it was intermittently nice yesterday, and this past weekend was lovely.

On our weekend morning walk around the park, the sun was shining, the children were mucking about in the muck and the daffodils were blooming. It was heartening to see that, because the daffodils began blooming in December.

December Daffs.

I was concerned that we might have a less colorful spring if all the flowers bloomed between Christmas and St. David’s Day, but they have managed to pull off a decent spring showing.

Spring blossoms.

At the park, the ducks appeared to have migrated (something they are unlikely to do since they get such generous handouts from visitors to the park pond — ducks on the dole, I call them) but a closer look revealed they were merely blending into the weeds along the shoreline, camouflaging themselves as tufts of grass and bushes. And then I saw one disguised as an empty carrier bag, and others camouflaged as crisp packets and discarded drink cups. It was all very heart warming, until my wife spotted one pretending to be a large brown rat, then we moved on.

\”Don\’t mind me, I\’m just a mallard in disguise.\”

Spring, in Britain, never fails to surprise me. All winter, no matter how grey the weather, there is always a lot of green. The grass stays green, many trees—not just evergreens—keep their leaves, the holly bushes, the rhododendrons, the mistletoe all stay green, as do many of the hedgerows. It really is cheery, especially when you consider that, back in New York, winters are just ice, snow and dead vegetation. By comparison, Britain is so green that spring always amazes me by proving just how much greener and pleasant an already green and pleasant land can become. It may seem green in February, but by the beginning of summer, it is green to the 10th power.

Pretty green for February.

Same scene, four months later.

But while spring in Britain is marvellous and pleasing, it does not compare to the feeling New Yorker’s (and, pretty much anyone else living above the Mason-Dixon Line) feel when spring, at long last, arrives. After months of cold and ice, the sound of snow-melt babbling down the gutter and the scent of wet earth is akin to the feeling of being released from a dungeon cell.

To get that wonderful feeling, however, you need to endure winter, which is why, despite the current dreariness, I am glad to be in England, especially when I hear that, in my old home town, it is currently snowing.

Yeah, I used to live there.

Oh, look! The sun is coming out, and it’s warming up nicely.

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