It is unpredictable April


By James McGuire

Contributing columnist

Wow! Don’t you simply love Ohio’s wildly fluctuating spring weather?

In the space of two weeks, we’ve been treated to temperatures ranging from below-freezing to the sweltering low-80s! Some days, an outside venture necessitated bundling up in a warm coat; on others, you were perfectly comfortable in shorts and a tee!

A neighbor swears he saw snowflakes peppering down on one of those colder mornings. He’s not the sort to be mistaken about such matters or make things up.

I missed that snow—the final shaking out of what I hope were the final remnants of the previous season. But a few days later, amid another weather turnaround, I did witness a brief hailstorm.

For several minutes, a blitz of little ice balls the size of double-ought buckshot bombarded the porch adjacent to my desk-side window. A loud, noisy intermezzo, that arrived in waves of intensity, drummed on the deck’s planks and plinked on the galvanized metal lids of the big trash cans in which I store bags of cracked corn and sunflower seeds for our bird feeders.

Of course, an occasional momentary interlude of leftover snow or more seasonally-fitting hail is just one of April’s weather eccentricities. When it comes to weather, anything’s possible in this early-spring month.

Rain, however, is to be expected—and plenty of it!

During April’s first two weeks, various downpours turned clear, bucolic streams hereabouts into muddy torrents, causing them to rise out of their banks and create localized flooding. The stretch of Stillwater that flows past our cottage yo-yoed up and down, jade-green and normal pool one day, a high, creamed-coffee spate the next. Enticingly fishable…or causing me to pay closer attention to that anxious inner voice whispering that it’s time to start building an ark and gathering animals two-by-two.

I keep a wary eye on the National Weather Service’s nearest river gauge and water-level peaking chart.

Besides hot-to-cold temperature extremes, and in addition to snow, hail, ice, rain, abundant mud, and possible flooding, we’ve also had high winds alerts and a couple of tornado watches. As of yet, no hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, or plagues of locust—though an abundance of screeching cicadas has been promised for later this year.

And we did have that incredible, once-in-a-lifetime total solar eclipse!

While the eclipse wasn’t a weather phenomenon, not many hours beforehand, our odds of being able to see the phenomenon taking place over our heads appeared discouragingly low. But capricious April also proved unpredictable to the doubters, worriers, and weather pundits—and magnanimously fulfilled our sky-watching wishes. We simply couldn’t have had more perfect skies for seeing this amazing show!

For the past several weeks, I’ve been recovering from a bit of surgery. Being told by your doctors to engage in an extended period of idleness and inertia may sound terrific to you; for me, it was more like being sentenced to medically-ordered house arrest.

Snacking, snoozing, and watching mindless drivel on cable TV is, for me, torture rather than fun—akin to being hung upside down from a tree while a gang of imps poked at my eyes with sharp sticks.

Housebound and going steadily more stir-crazy, I complied with my incarceration as best I could for as long as I could. Then I staged a jailbreak.

On a sunny afternoon last week, Daisy the dog and I went for a slow walk along a nearby trail along. By necessity, I needed a flat, undemanding path, nothing strenuous.

The one I chose wends its way gently through a half-mile stand of mature hardwoods. Ongoing spring was evident everywhere!

The woodland’s big trees were visibly responding to spring’s life-renewing magic, their chlorophyll factories now in high gear—already making a good start on leafing out. Not there yet, though sufficient to give the bright sun’s warm yellow-orange illumination a slight greenish tint as it streamed through the intertwined branches.

The narrow footpath was dappled with wildflowers—spring beauties, bluets, white bloodroot long past its peak, bouquets of Virginia bluebells, a few trout lilies, purple violets, and every so often, a maroon-red wake robin.

Woodpeckers drummed. Nuthatches yammered. From somewhere off to my left, not too far away, a gang of bluejays loudly tormented an unfortunate victim—likely an owl or hawk. The cloistered timber rang with their harassing clamor.

I kept listening for any songs from traveling warblers but heard not a single note. It was probably a bit early for the tiny birds.

Maybe for me, too.

I had planned to amble back to where the trail climbs a steep hill; I’d then turn around and head back to the parking lot. An easy mile-long loop.

Well, not so easy—though I did manage…eventually. But it took way more effort than I’d expected. I hadn’t realized how shallow my energy reserves were until I’d drained the tank.

Back at the vehicle, I gave Daisy a bowl of water and a handful of treats. Then I rested on the hatchback’s rear ledge, sipped my own water, and wished I’d thought to bring myself a few treats.

Life is as unpredictable as April’s weather. It can feel like winter one day, summer the next. There’ll likely be rain and wind, hail, and even snow. But it’s all part of what makes the passage interesting and worthwhile…discovering the solace and beauty to be found in its unfolding.

Reach the writer at [email protected]

No posts to display