Thursday, April 29, 2010

A nasty month

"April is the cruelest month" has long since become a cliche. After all, it starts out a famous T.S. Eliot poem (The Waste Land) that's been around for 88 years now, and to most readers it is memorable only as an oxymoron of sorts: Spring is cruel?

Eliot's poem begins like this:

April is the cruellest (that's how he spelled it) month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
dull roots with spring rain.

Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.

OK, we get it. Spring brings hope for happiness, hope which will be crushed, etc., etc. Better to keep subsisting on dried tubers. Then the poem proceeds (essentially unmoved) through hundreds of lines spiked with foreign languages and abstract esotericisms, leaving most students snoring loudly upon their desks.

But, as it turns out in west-central Montana, April really is a bitch. Maybe the cruelest. Eliot, an American living in England, didn't get the half of it. Today, April 29, dawned with 35-degree temperature winds snapping new tree buds back and forth like Lash LaRue's whip. Then came snow - hours of it now - covering roofs and lawns and reminding us all that "Springtime in the Rockies" was a song for people who lived somewhere else.

April in Montana promises springtime, and often delivers. Then it pulls away the rug. Reminding us yet again that, hey, at least we can rely on dried tubers.

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