“April is the cruelest month.” So begins T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland. He might as well have been writing about April on the prairies.
Come April, Old Man Winter is not about to give up his dominance. Never mind that he’s been haranguing us with cold and snow and ice and blizzards since November, mid-October if he was feeling particularly malicious. Benevolence is not part of Winter’s character.
He teases us with a few days of blue skies, sun and temperatures above freezing, even at night. Then Wham! A dump of snow. A howling wind. Day time temperatures well below freezing, never mind the night time temperatures.
We shake our hands at the sky. We scream, “It’s been five months already. Go Away!” Then we get out the snow shovel and start clearing the walk. Again. For the fourth time.
We live for that day when the trees are suddenly surrounded by an aura of green haze that, the next day, turns into full-fledged summer green. When the much hated dandelions poke their green leaves above ground. When cheeky gophers (a.k.a. Richardson’s Ground Squirrels) hop, skip and jump across the highway, daring us to run them down. When the hills of unbroken prairie grass are covered with the purple haze of prairie crocuses.
We breathe a sigh of relief. Spring, brief as it is, is here. Daffodils. Tulips. Robins. Calves. Lambs.
Then, one morning, we wake up to snow. Again. In the middle of May.
On the other hand . . .
We are not living in a tar paper shack. Or a log house. With only a cook stove to keep us warm, if we sit right beside it. With the wind knifing in through every crack and crevice. With the snow creeping in under the door and around the windows. With bedclothes freezing to the wall. With ice inches thick on the windows. Like my grandparents, Abe and Addie Hanna, endured for 17 years before they built a “proper” house.
Nor are we living in the midst of bombed-out buildings with death and destruction raining down all around us. Fearing the sound of bombs and missiles and explosions that rock the earth. Wondering if we’ll live through the night. Or the day. Wondering if our loved ones are still alive. Wondering if we’ll find safety as refugees living amongst strangers.
Compared to what millions of people elsewhere are enduring, snow in the middle of April is nothing. And, to quote prairie farmers, “We need the moisture.”
Every snowbank has a silver lining.
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