April is a month of burgeoning potential, the very name April was derived after the latin aperio “to open”, a suggestion at the encroaching blossom season, and the opening buds and flowers such as dandelions, daisies and gorse flower to name just a few.
These early flowers feed the newly emerged bees who after a long winter’s rest are keen to feed and rebuild their strength. Within the first few days of April I began to notice the bees had come back, it started in my polytunnel where I would be regularly bumped into by a fat but rather drunk looking bumble bee and then later on during a foraging walk they seemed to out in force, taking long thirsty drinks from the heart of the yellow dandelions.
While March can be a timid introduction to spring, with some days bitterly cold and full of winter while others bright and daffodil yellow, April is a month where the fields are full of gamboling lambs. Daisies (also the flower of the month) start to carpet our lawns and for those of us who are avid gardeners, our windowsills or greenhouses are bursting with young seedlings. I can barely keep up with the demands of a market garden, and every morning, my toddler and I trundle down to the tunnels where I set up a digging area for him and a sowing station for myself. We both work hard, coating our hands in soil, deep in concentration. Although my focus is keenly occupied on carely placing just one seed into each compost filled module, I am aware of the birds-bustling around outside, filling the air with song as they build nests and find mates.
Spring is certainly in full force, the spring equinox is now behind us and the days are stretching out longer and longer as we now speed towards the summer solstice and the longest day of the year. There’s a sense of relief all round. Even on the most windest and coldest of April days, it never feels like winter has returned. There is just too much activity, too many signs that spring has won out and taken hold of the rains. Mint pushes through the soil and dead leaves in the container and reminds me of the summery drinks and puddings I can make from it. The dark leaves of the Elder tree unfurl and theres a whisper of the elder blossom thats to come. And the apple trees that line my walk down to the garden are starting to bravely unfurl their leaves.
Whenever I mull over the month of April I always visualise muddy puddles, Japanese cherry blossom, hot cross buns and of course all the paraphernalia that comes with Easter celebrations-coloured eggs, bunny rabbits and chocolate…It’s a time of year that has a childlike innocence and joy, a hopeful time and a time where we can finally fully welcome in a more gentle season and leave the bracing winter days behind.
As I welcome in the first week of April I never know quite what to expect. A couple of years ago we had a heat wave which rivelled some of the hottest days of summer. It was dresses, sunhats and coconut scented suncream every day.
This year April seems to be staying more true to the traditional idea of spring and-I’ve been keeping my wooly jumpers at hand and occasionally bare my winter pale skin to the sun, usually while Im sowing in the polytunnel where the temperature mounts as the morning progresses. One of my favourite things about April is the scent of rain infused soil. It has a distinct aroma at this time of year, I think due to the heat from the sun warming it up and releasing that unique combination of soil and growth all muddled together with a hint of the wild garlic.
On the first day of April this year we had our first two lambs arrive, heralding in spring in a memorable fashion. They are sweet little wobbly things that stumbled to their feet within seconds and by the next day were exploring the field and nudging bossily at their mummy. The baby chicks have also arrived and my two boys are fascinated by their fuzzy feathers and continuous peeping. The pet tadpoles that we rescued from a dried up puddle are slowly fattening up and the nubs of legs are beginning to appear. Everywhere I look I am reminded about new life and fresh beginnings.