By Ash Alder
April doesn’t make a grand announcement.
She’s subtle. Sort of hums to let you know she’s close. Flutters in the periphery. And when she lands — like the ruby-throated hummingbird at the garden feeder — the world sings out.
April is a month of sweet transition. Purple martins replace purple finches. Yellow jessamine twists, climbs, dances across the landscape. Silver maple is flowering, and on the ground beneath it, you find the first of hundreds of brilliant green samaras (seed pods) that will spiral to the earth in the coming weeks. You pick up the fruit, spin it between your thumb and forefinger, hold it in your palm as if you are holding the wings of some tiny, mythical creature.
A ragtag choir of a dozen songbirds blurts out their threats and primal longings, and just beyond the flowering maple, a skinny tabby all but grins while brushing past the garden path.
The mornings are knit scarf- and corduroy-cool, but in the afternoon, your feet are bare, and you are sunning in a patch of tender young grass.
April is the last frost, dahlias in the garden, spring rain and fresh asparagus.
And as the first seeds of summer crops are sown (green beans, melons, cukes and squashes) you realize this: April is your answered prayer. Here and now. Late winter’s wish, come true.
In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. — Margaret Atwood, Unearthing Suite, 1983
Rain and Glory
Cows lie down this month same as any. But if you’re curious to know when the April showers are coming, observe a pine cone (they close when rain is on its way).
Of course, you don’t have to wait until May for the flower show. This month, fragrant jessamine and blooming azalea would be enough to satisfy any flower-loving gardener. But look and see hummingbird candy everywhere: coral honeysuckle, iris, buckeye, wild columbine.
Now is time to plant dahlias, petunias, angelonia, heliotrope, lantanas and begonias. And in late April, color your midsummer garden electric with glory lily tubers. This tropical vine grows fast, climbing upward of 7 feet with its curling, grasping tendrils. Its flaming red and brilliant yellow flowers make it an absolute showstopper, and with its long, bright green stamen dangling beneath its down-facing petals, this deer-resistant “Flame of the Woods” resembles, to this nature-lover, some kind of exotic jellyfish.
Oh, lovely April: Bring on the rain, bring on the glory.
Hug a Tree
April is a month of celebration. Easter Sunday, of course, on April 12. Earth Day on Wednesday, April 22. And on Friday, April 24, Arbor Day.
According to the Arbor Day Foundation, “One large tree can provide a day’s supply of oxygen for up to four people.”
Let that land for just a moment. Breathe it in, if you will. And if you’re interested in learning about the foundation’s bold “Time for Trees” initiative and how you can get involved, visit www.arborday.org.
April is a promise that May is bound to keep. — Hal Borland
April Sky Watch
According to Space.com, two of the 10 “Must-See Skywatching Events to look for in 2020” occur this month.
First: the “Glory Nights” of Venus. April 2 and 3, Venus will appear high in the sky and as close to the Pleiades star cluster as it can get, lighting up the blue-white stars in such a way you’re sure to go all dreamy. Venus hasn’t been this close to the Pleiades since April 2012, and it won’t again for another eight years. Catch it if you can.
Next, on April 7, get ready for the supermoon — the biggest full moon of the year and, because of its closeness to Earth, “a dramatically large range of high and low ocean tides.”
Warm Your Bones
Spring is here, yes. But if you can’t seem to shake the final chill of winter, here’s one for you: golden milk. Warm and delicious and, according to Ayurvedic medicine, a powerful healing tonic for inflammation and digestive issues, this holistic, dairy-free beverage gets its golden color from its star ingredient: turmeric.
There are dozens of recipes available online. Most call for coconut or almond milk. Here’s one borrowed from WellnessMama.com that serves four. Golden milk in five glorious minutes. But if you’re worried about the possibility of staining your blender and/or countertops, this may be risky business.
2 cups milk of choice, such as almond pecan, coconut or dairy
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of ground pepper
Tiny piece of fresh peeled ginger root or 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon raw honey or maple syrup or to taste (optional)
Blend all ingredients, except cayenne pepper and honey, in a high-speed blender until smooth.
Pour mixture into small saucepan and heat for 3-5 minutes over medium heat until hot, but not boiling.
Add cayenne pepper and honey, if desired; stir to combine. Drink immediately.