T.S. Eliot began his 1922 poem, The Waste Land, with these words:
“April is the cruelest month, breeding
lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
memory and desire, stirring
dull roots with spring rain.”
Eliot had no idea what a “cruel” April is. He obviously wasn’t a Minnesotan.
If he could live here this April, he’d be singing a different tune:
“April is the cruelest month, piling
more snow onto the frozen land, mixing
misery and de-icer, shoveling
hopes of spring beneath wintry drifts.”
In my long life, I have never lived through an April this lousy, this unrelenting. March used to be my least favorite month because of its fickle weather, which jerks around one’s expectations – nice one day, cruddy the next. In the winter months, we expect cold weather every day, so we just bundle up and try to ignore it.
What’s awful about this April, worse than the dead of winter, is its outrageous unexpectedness. It has been so gloomy-doomy that even the most descriptive Minnesota weather whiners stutter and stammer while trying to describe it.
“This weather is, um, it’s, it’s – just – um, UNBEARABLE,” a store clerk blurted out the other day.
What’s amusing is how those glass-is-half-full folks go around saying cheer-up things such as, “Oh well, we’ll all by complaining about the heat by June.” Or: “Yup, lotta snow, but we can sure use the moisture.”
Moisture yes, but not so much snow that my front yard looks like the foothills of the Himalayas. Just imagine people back in Noah’s time saying, as it began to rain and kept raining, “Yup, lotta rain, but we can sure use the moisture.”
My sister, Mary, suffers from seasonal affective disorder. The other day, she vowed through clenched teeth, “If ONE more person gives me that we-could-use-the-moisture CRAP, I’m gonna SMACK him right across his face!” Whoa, Mary, whoa! Cheer up. Just remember, you’ll soon be bickering about the heat, hopefully not from a jail cell.
Each morning, right after waking up, I usually enjoy opening all the window blinds to greet the sights of morning, even in the winter. Not lately, though. When I open them now, I frown and groan.
This morning’s newspaper headline was a real hoot:
“Less snow than predicted for St. Cloud area.”
That must have been written by one of those glass-is-half-full folks. Less snow. What good news. Gee, ain’t you glad?
Just now, as I’m writing this, as I heard my furnace kick in yet again, I glanced out of my home-office window. It’s Sunday, April 14, 8:10 a.m. It’s snowing. Again. The “less snow” has begun. We’re supposed to get “only” one or two inches today, but I’m not holding my breath. There’s a snowstorm brewing out West, roaring this way. A “lesser” blizzard, I presume.
For years, we baby boomers have been claiming the seasons, like the old gray mare, just ain’t what they used to be. Seasonal patterns are way out of whack. It’s probably caused by global warming, although some of the global-warming disbelievers, who do not understand global warming, are saying things such as, “If global warming is real, then how come this April is so cold?”
Even the poor birds are confused. The neighbors’ yard is often filled with twitching, twittering birds, fluttering onto the snow-draped bird feeders. They seem as baffled as we do. And speaking of birds, for years I used to laugh about the human snowbirds fleeing South for the winter. “Winter wimps,” I called them. Not anymore. Not this April. If I could take off work to fly to Hawaii, I’d be on that plane by noon today. Farewell, April. Hello, Honolulu.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.