Dear April in North Carolina,
Please make up your mind. Winter. Spring. Winter. Pollen. Summer. Spring. Pollen. Winter. Extra thick pollen. Rain. Mud. Blooms. Sleet. Snow. More pollen.
I was talking with a friend on the phone yesterday. She lives in the mountains and was bemoaning the (seemingly) endless winter there. “I mean, I haven’t even seen a single dandelion yet!” She gasped later on in our conversation when she looked out the window and did in fact spy those yellow flowers poking up from the ground.
I love being back here for spring, but the weather of late has me agreeing more with T.S. Eliot than with Chaucer: April can be the cruelest month. There was definitely more cruelty than sweetness about the pouring rain, plunging temperatures, and wind on Saturday, when a few hundred runners, spectators, and volunteers gathered at Umstead State Park for the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run.
The creek flowing under the bridge rose in the pouring rain, covering gravel “islands” and tree stumps that just the day before had poked up over the top of the water.
After my trusty LL Bean raincoat betrayed me and quit trying to keep me dry, I sheltered one of the race’s aid stations—often made colder by the creek flowing under its bridge—and kept taking photos. I didn’t last long once the sun dropped low and the wind strengthened. It was even tougher for the runners than for this photographer, and, overnight, with many runners still out on the course, sleet and snow would join the rain. I take my hat off to all of the runners who persevered to finish their race. They are made of tougher stuff than I am.
Despite April’s cruelty, though, I am ridiculously happy to be home. To run familiar trails. To wander the woods and linger by creeks. To see the redbuds and the wild dogwoods in bloom. Even to brush off the pollen from my dog’s face when she dives into a bush chasing a scent and comes out more yellow than her usual coat of brown and white.
Is April more cruel or sweet where you live? What are some of your favorite signs that spring is finally here?