Thursday, April 12, 2012

'April in New England is like first love'

“Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear upon the earth; the time of the singing of the birds is come.”

These lovely poetic strains from the “Song of Solomon” speak of springtime.

The earth warms, and the signs of the season are everywhere: green foliage, swelling buds, birdsong.

Writing about the changing seasons from her seventeenth-century farmhouse in Connecticut and its beautiful environs, Gladys Taber said it succinctly: “April in New England is like first love.”

An early riser, I watch the sun come up behind my neighbor’s farmhouse slowly scaling the hundred-foot pines, and my home fills with natural light.

I listen for the voice of my beloved red bird and his pleasing clear whistles, which sound like “wait, wait, wait, cheer, cheer, cheer.” He sings to me, this northern cardinal, who never strays far from his mate, a brown bird with a black face and red bill.

I always hear him before he makes his grand appearance, dressed in crimson finery perched on the bird feeder or dutifully standing guard at the nest.

A red-bellied woodpecker taps insistently on the oak tree in my front yard, and I am glad to find him happily employed, his red forehead bobbing back and forth. Not too long ago, he or one of his kin knocked with a vengeance on the wooden gutter of my house, a most unwelcome sound.

It is another dry, sunny day, so unlike New England springs of recent memory.

“April weeps – but O ye hours! / Follow with May’s fairest flowers,” wrote Percy Bysshe Shelley, but there has been little rain this month. I welcome day after day of golden sunshine, but I am starting to miss the rain as I did the snow this winter. Somehow, it signals a sort of imbalance, and hopefully nature will adjust its course.

Driving to the summer house in Tiverton, I turn onto Pond Bridge Road and inhale the familiar earthy scent of freshly tilled soil and sea. As I stand near the dam, I am sandwiched between the sparkling fresh water of the reservoir, the brackish water of the salt marshes and the ocean waters beyond.

Arriving in April or early May, schools of silvery herring will shortly go up the ladder, jumping and splashing at the base of the dam on the final leg of their journey to spawn in the pond.

It is still too cold to awaken the hibernating summer house. I sniff the air, which smells of growing things, and survey the sea sparkling in the noontime sun.

It is a season of promise.


  1. Beautifully written as usual however you have one incorrect fact : the herring go up the ladder/dam to spawn in the pond.

    1. Thanks so much, Nancy. I will make the correction. Blessings, Linda