Vol. 12, No. 3,009 - The American Reporter - October 19, 2006

by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.

Printable version of this story

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- Is there a poet with thoughts of a new beginning who doesn't turn those thoughts toward April? The muse imbues their steadying thought: that once again in the tufts of grass, small buds sprouting on dead branches, and in a glimpse of yellow or red or green bleeding through shoots pushed up from the cold earth, April is here.

Azaleas, blooming like the miracle of "scarlet ribbons, in gay profusion," are everywhere - in manicured gardens and open lots, in stone planters or forming floral hedges around church properties and old plantations alike.

The birds are back. St. Simons is one of the southernmost Barrier Islands off the coast of Georgia, yet the birds still fly "south" and do come back. Knowing they leave here tells me we do have seasons not too different from the easily definable Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall in the North. Of course, in this morning's chilly air, I wondered why that would be important to me.

Pope Gregory may have changed the calendar for the Christian world in 1564, moving New Year's Day to January first from its long-standing April first date, but he didn't change this feeling that today we begin again to see the acorns turn into oak trees as the woods replenishes itself.

(Just in case the origin of April Fool's Day enters your mind, I'll skim over where it came from and when. We didn't have instant notification when news of interest to the entire population was announced. I've heard it said such news traveled by "sandles wire" so when the calendars changed, many citizens didn't know it and would start their New Year's Festivities on April first as they always had. They'd be pointed at and jeered and when that sport ended, the custom of April Fools jokes began. "Your shoelace is untied.")

A hundred years before I was born, poet Robert Browning wrote about April in his "Home-Thoughts, from Abroad":

O, to be in England
Now that April's there.
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware.
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
in England -- now!

He was here, writing of there, and his memory brought it all into one feeling that is April. I'm not writing from abroad; I'm looking out my back window and the backyard birds are pecking at the food that spilled from the feeders when too many approached it for breakfast. The scrappy bluejays, the gentlemanly cardinals, the mourning doves.

The crepe myrtles will soon bloom for the fourth year since we planted them -- one for each grandchild -- while the bales of pine straw are stacked and waiting for ambition and a rake to spread a dark brown covering over the yard.

April is a coming together of all our senses. The sun shines from low on the horizon reaching windows it left in shadow all winter. April rain is soft and gentle, coming and going, not heavily but often. You can see April; you can hear it, smell it, taste it and savor it in all its essence.

Everything is newly born, soft and pure and innocent. It's not for us to focus on the dead leaves and branches that will inevitably follow a summer of fireflies and gaudy bouquets, gathered for the joy of mixing and matching on a table set for summer fare. There's time for that, but not this time.

This time is for April and it's here - now!

Copyright 2006 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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