This story originally appeared in the March April 2020 issue of Inspired Home magazine.
April is in my mistress’ face,
And July in her eyes hath place;
Within her bosom is September,
But in her heart a cold December.
In high school, I sang in an ensemble called the Renaissance Singers. I woke up recently singing the alto line of this beautiful English madrigal by Thomas Morley, completely out of the blue. It’s incredible how powerful our memory for music is. I haven’t actively sung this song in 30 years, but I recalled almost the entirety of my part all these years later.
But then I started thinking about the lines of this Italian poem. We on the Plains are the embodiment of this poem. April lives, expectantly, on our faces. It’s the way we turn them up to embrace the first rays of the springtime sun, providing a noticeable measure of warmth as well as light after our long, frigid winters. Everything feels, smells and seems new, and we look upon the world as if for the first time all over again, April after April.
As soon as we feel the sun, trusting that it will melt the massive mounds of winter away, our eyes begin to look to summer and all that that entails. We eagerly yearn to dig in our gardens, searching for the first signs of sprouts and shoots. We seek out the return of the birds, delighting in our first glimpse of a Robin. We plan ahead to long, lazy days, eating outside, family trips away, evenings spent on porches and back yards.
But even as we plan for and live in the glorious days and nights of summer, we are, all of us Plains people, indoctrinated with our forefathers’ and foremothers’ understanding that the harvest season will shortly be upon us. And we must prepare. We ready our yards for the end of this beautiful season of fresh and seemingly endless gifts known as summer. We cover or bring in our plants at night. We pull out the last of our vegetables from our gardens and can or freeze the bounty. Our patio furniture gets cleaned up and stored away. We swap out our lawn mowers for snow blowers in readiness for what will surely come next.
And in our hearts, we know that the massive mounds of winter will be here again before we know it. Even as we are looking up, embracing the spring sun’s warmth, or digging in the glorious dirt of summer or enjoying a fall fire outside in the last lingering days of autumn, we know, deep down, that winter will always come again.
But so will April, July and September. The Italian poet wasn’t thinking about northern America when he wrote these lines, but they remain true for us anyway. Each season has its place in our lives and in our bodies. Embrace and enjoy them all.