”April showers bring forth May flowers,” was one of those pieces of folk wisdom cited to encourage children gloomy at the fact that it was pouring with rain outside and it was the school holiday. Flowers were a matter of complete indifference to primary school boys. Flower beds were things to be avoided whilst playing football or riding a bicycle, the blooms they might or might not contain did not register with those intent on games or races. Folk wisdom seemed chiefly about things we didn’t want – like rain. Ashes and oaks and splashes and soaks offered little consolation to someone wanting the sun to shine from Easter to Christmas, when a heavy fall of snow would be welcome.
Of course, the climate has now become so mild that flowers might appear at any time. Daffodils were in bloom on our road at the winter solstice. A winter flowering variety, perhaps, but still a month early. May flowers no longer wait until May, when temperatures in February can pass twenty degrees, then May flowers may come in March.
Yet despite the mild winters and the changes in the floral calendar, April still has a special quality. Perhaps, at the most basic level, it is a bridge from one half of the year to the other. March still has hints of winter. Cold winds and chances of snow still linger. The days lengthen at a rapid pace, but there can be a lack of awareness of the returning light. Then, at the end of March, the clocks spring forward and the weather seems to take its cue from the light in the sky.
There seems almost a magical quality about April evenings.
As I was taking in washing from the line, a sparrow protested angrily from a nearby hedgerow, its feathers puffed up. Perhaps I was a trespasser on its territory, perhaps it wanted to declare its authority.
There was a warmth in the air, a humidity that threatened the onset of a storm. The atmospheric heaviness seemed more appropriate to the thundery days of late August than to the days of high spring. It was an evening wholly different from an evening a month ago, and equally different from an evening in a month’s time.
Perhaps April’s power lies in its promise, in its power to raise expectations of times to come. Perhaps generations of electronic games players are indifferent to what April may be like, footballs and bicycles are not as plentiful as they once were. Or perhaps April has the power to weave its magic over everyone.