April is the Cruelest Month

The meadow before the April Thaw

I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape—the loneliness of it—the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it—the whole story doesn’t show.

                                                                        American painter Andrew Wyeth

For winter lovers like Wyeth and I, April can be the cruelest month. Not, as T.S. Elliot suggests, because we feel out of sync with the joyful explosion of spring. Elliot’s spirits apparently fell as the sap rose in the English countryside. It is because April begins by melting the simplifying snow and ends by hiding the bone structure of the land with new leaves.

This morning, while I struggle across softening snow on Gastineau Meadow, Aki stops often to discover smells hidden all winter. The whole meadow has become an antique store of smells. She stops, sniffs, digs a bit with her right paw, sniffs again, pees. Just yesterday I could have strolled across the meadow on frozen crust. No clouds would have complicated the simple lines of the surrounding mountains. No rain collected in the tracks of deer that crossed just before we arrived. We were free to move across the uncomplicated landscape over snow that protected the cores of wildflowers, berries, and sun dews from winter winds. 

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