Let’s Talk with Diane A.S. Stuckart

The Cruelest Month?
By Diane A.S. Stuckart

As we draw the curtain on April, let’s acknowledge that there’s something quite special about the fourth month of the year. Forget the official holidays—April Fool’s Day, Tax Day, the Passover and Easter holidays—not to mention made-up holidays like National Grilled Cheese Day and National Tartan Day (though, being of Scottish descent as well as a lover of toasted cheese, I don’t object to celebrating those things). Instead, I’m referring to the way April traditionally evokes strong emotion in people, particularly those who live by the pen.

T.S. Eliot absolutely had a beef with April, calling it “the cruelest month”. Edna St. Vincent Millay was equally uncomplimentary, claiming that “April comes like an idiot, babbling and stewing flowers.” A bit harsh considering most folks look at April as a welcome time of youth and rebirth. In fact, April is named after the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite. In her Roman guise as Venus, the goddess also was the patron of motherhood and fertility and, a bit more obscurely, gardens and vineyards.

(Speaking of which, back in grade school, we children learned that April showers bring May flowers. The corollary being that if April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring? Pilgrims, of course.)

Shakespeare, however, was quite the fan of April, referencing that month in numerous sonnets—April hath put a spirit of youth in everything—and plays—The uncertain glory of an April day, Which now shows all the beauty of the sun. Not to be outdone, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The April winds are magical, And thrill our tuneful frames.” I don’t recall any writers waxing that poetically about February or September!

When I first wrote this blog piece, we had not yet begun the month, and we’d not sunk so deeply into quarantine as we now have. Then, I’d been prepared to give a major huzzah to April as a month of hope and promise. Now, however, I fear I have to side with Eliot’s more doleful view. But, as many wiser than I have said…this, too, shall pass. And so I look forward to a more joyful April next year.

Pandemics aside, what is your opinion of April…cruel or magical?

Comments

  1. April is spring and I love it! Also love your pilgrim joke lol

  2. Here in SoCal, April signifies the start of the gray months—days where the high fog rolls in and hangs around until about 5PM. Then, the gray disappears for about an hour and the sun goes down. For me, April has just dragged. I’m looking forward to May, which is, of course, another gray month, but at least it has a different name! 🙂

  3. In Ohio, it was great–the first signs of spring, daffodils poking up from the earth, snow melting. In Florida it’s grasping onto the last few days of not-horrible temperatures before the onslaught of summer swelter.

    • Lisa we’ve been lucky in our part of FL the past couple of weeks. Tonight it’s even going to get down into the 50s. So I can break out that flannel shirt one more time before it’s tank top weather. 🙂

  4. Since I grew up in the northeast, I viewed April as a pleasant month where spring rains brought flowers and warmer air with the promise of summer. Yards and trees turned green again as new life flourished. So it’s a season of hope, or it used to be. But we do have to hope and pray that next year will be better, and that we will be here to savor every minute.

  5. maggietoussaint says

    When I lived in a more wintery climate, April was indeed welcome, and I loved the daffodils and other spring flowers. Now that I live where it is seemingly all summer except for the season of hurricanes, April pretty much slides by with or without May flies, those delta wing flies that really bite. We also are getting an early batch of Love Bugs here right now. The azaleas have already come and gone as have the camelias. Now we’ve got lilies and bottle brushes that are flowering. Oh, the joys of April. As for the pandemic affecting my April, I am still a bit shocked that the whole month is gone. Seems like I should have accomplished more!

    • Yes, totally understand…April has just slipped away this year. Luckily no love bugs here yet. Though I learned a trick on how to get their squished bodies off your car. Take a dryer sheet and stick it inside an empty and clean spray bottle, fill with water, and shake it up and then let it sit until the chemicals permeating the dryer sheet are now in the water. Use that spray on your car hood and bumper, with another (dry) dryer sheets as a scrubber. Works as well or better than the fancy sprays you buy at the auto store!

  6. I think of April as a schizophrenic month. It can dump anywhere from a few inches to a foot of snow on us one day, then melt it away with temps in the 70’s the next. A few days later the pattern might repeat itself. April never seems to know what it wants to be, at least not in NJ. Maybe it’s different elsewhere in the country.

  7. Just there….I always look at April as the bridge between celebrations of my March birthday and when the parties finally stop.

    • April IS rather a bridge month…and depending on where you live, the final chance for a bit of nice weather before the hot temperatures hits. So, just how many weeks do you spend partying for your birthday!? 🙂