April’s reputation as a changeable, capricious month is well established, but it seems to have been particularly fickle this year. Each suggestion of spring was followed by a wintry interlude. Our early garden bloomers—hyacinths and daffodils—spent more time weighed down by snow or encrusted by frost than with their cheerful heads held high. After admiring our neighbors’ crocuses from the distance for years, last autumn I finally remembered to buy and plant some bulbs around our house. A number of them produced beautiful blossoms, only to wilt before their time because of late freezes.
Living along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains at 6,000 feet, we know that winter doesn’t technically end until mid-May. Despite that knowledge, my memory is short-lived and each spring the weather surprises me anew. My gratitude for the moisture brought by recent rains and snow notwithstanding, I am happy that we seem to have rounded a corner, with more mellow temperatures prevailing both at nighttime and during the day. I sincerely hope that the lupines and columbines poised to flower soon will be spared winter’s chill grip.
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The floral awakening is a lovely reminder of the welcome change of the seasons, and the no less anticipated return of migratory birds confirms that a page has been turned in the yearbook of Mother Earth. While shorebirds and wading birds en route from their wintering grounds in the Southern United States, Mexico, Central or South America to their breeding grounds in more northern climes have been showing up on time, the arrival of many songbirds has been delayed this spring. If we needed a reminder of how tenuous the lives of wild animals are, the deep freeze that assailed Texas and other states in February confirmed that countless creatures depend on finely tuned rhythms, killing some and impeding others. Birds whose survival depends on plants and insects to sustain them during their journey were adversely affected by the storm.
The prospect of more frequent and severe recurrences of similarly calamitous events is disconcerting to the core. For eons, humans living close to nature and its cycles have known about the interconnectedness of all things. Our modern societies, increasingly removed and distant from nature’s finely tuned ways, have lost that understanding and wisdom, not only at our own peril, but to the detriment of myriad fellow species. We need to find that understanding and wisdom again. There is no alternative.
This is my slightly belated post in honor of Earth Day, which we celebrated on April 22. Every day is Earth Day, should be Earth Day, needs to be Earth Day. Without Earth, there is no future.