April Powders & Signs of Spring

As I write this in the middle of the third week of April, southwestern Wisconsin (and much of the northern part of the state) has just come off of a very late season snowstorm. With the weather forecast stating rain and then snow for the latter part of the weekend, I had spent much of the day Saturday preparing to winter just a bit more. The garlic had been looking proud in their narrow rows, pointy green tops standing at attention in the hot – yes, hot – weather we’d had just a few days before. Windows were open midweek as the sun beat down and temperatures reached into the mid to upper 90s.

I had saved the dead leaves that had blanketed the garlic all winter, and though I’ve read that their early greenery can survive in temperatures below freezing, I wasn’t taking chances. Covering them up once more, the stalks bent over beneath the light weight of the leaves, looking almost forlorn as they hunkered down once more.

Saturday’s temperatures had cooled off rapidly throughout the afternoon, and I snuck out one load of laundry that managed to dry on the line in the windy conditions, in between spitting bits of rain.

Carrying in a bit of firewood for the LAST, last fire of the season to take the chill off, and a few handfuls of leaves over the volunteer squash plants that had already germinated in the mixture of cow manure, dead leaves and wood ash in the raised bed, and I was ready to spend Sunday indoors, after an early morning outing to church. Rains came again mid-morning, followed by a slushy not-sure-what-to-call-itself mixture, and then it snowed for real.

Snow in April in the midwest isn’t entirely uncommon, but in stark contrast to the nearly sweltering conditions of just a few days earlier, I felt as if I had been transported back to the month of February. The moisture-filled fluffy white flakes fell into heavy layers on the trees and grass, and melted quickly on the ground.

“Too warm for you,” the soil seemed to be saying. “You can’t stay.” The snow put up its best effort, and as I looked out the window it seemed to be another of nature’s tugs of war, a battle for survival. The dense white blanket which looked as if it had taken over, was whisked away after a more spring-like sunny Monday. “Time to go,” whispered the warmer breezes, and only¬† the thick drifts that ribboned the tops of the ditches along farm fence lines remained the following day.

Like the fish flies that descend on our riverside towns in summer, to swarm the road signs, street lights and sides of buildings, as if by clustering and clinging they could hope to prolong their lives, the snow was out of its season and quickly dying.


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