The Working Waterfront

Dear, yet not-so-dear April

The delayed, not lost art of writing letters prompts missive

Barbara Fernald
Posted 2016-04-25
Last Modified 2016-04-25

Have you fallen off on writing “thank you” notes? I know I have, and I’m not proud of it. I used to enjoy writing long letters to people before I became a mother. Then computers, the Internet, e-mail and Facebook also came along to lure me away from the handwritten word.

I was once good at writing timely thank you notes, but now I cringe thinking of the ones I have not yet managed to write. Some are way overdue, but they’re still in my head just waiting for me to get around to them. Do you think there is a statute of limitations on writing a “thank you?” I don’t. My motto is: “Better really late than really never.”

The month of April brings to the Cranberry Isles enough bad weather days that one could still find an opportunity to sit by the warmth of the wood stove and write a note or two. Instead, I manage to spend at least an hour a day seeing what my friends have posted on Facebook and following a winding trail of YouTube videos that amuse me, but that I would never miss if I hadn’t seen them at all.

As I skirt my thoughts about overdue notes, I decide that a missive to my fickle associate April might provide me with a warm up. She and her brother March are my least favorite months of the year. (Oddly, he seemed to have run by faster than usual this year, taking with him things like ice in the lakes and frost in the ground. Last year he left so much behind.)

April is like a friend who insists on giving me occasional gifts I never asked for or wanted or would dare to give anyone else. Every now and then, though, she surprises me with a winner.

Little Cranberry Island, Maine


Dear April:

Thank you for those warmish two days you gave us in the first week. We almost reached 50 degrees, which felt mild except for the cold rain. They provided us with a glimpse of spring which was well appreciated. But then, what was up with that cold stretch? Seeing the temperature at 18 degrees for the next four mornings felt like an off-schedule April Fool’s joke. You prankster. At least it gave us a chance to burn some more hardwood at night so the wood stove would still be warm in the morning.

I do appreciate going from a cold bedroom into a 70 degree living room. It’s always an adjustment to give that up, so I am grateful for a few more chances to physically remember winter’s coziness.

You know that storm on Thursday with the 50 mph winds and higher gusts that coincided with the astronomical high tide at midnight? You were very considerate to give us a “pass” on the power outages that were experienced by the residents on the west side of Mount Desert Island. When we couldn’t sleep, due to the noise of the wind and the downpours, we could at least turn on our lights and read for a bit or watch TV. We appreciated that.

Thank you also for keeping the boats in the harbors safe, especially now that more of them are in the water. When we read that your storm had flipped the 150-foot-long bleachers onto the track at Ellsworth High School, we had yet another example of how you spared our little islands from damage. Thanks, again. 

I have to say I admire your challenges to our sanity, stamina and wardrobe at this time of year. Just when we are most disgusted with the cold, or depressed that your winds have caused yet another boat cancelation, you give us a break. We treasure your increase in daylight and if we get out of the wind we can feel some warmth from your sun. But, you give us such a mixed bag of weather that most of us feel a little cuckoo with your generosity. Just the other day, when I arrived at the post office, Joy Sprague asked, “So, do you think it’s warm or cold today?” A perfect question for you, April.

Except for mud season, which you’ve spared us from so far, you really do a pretty good job in the gift wrap department. Yes, you’re a bit austere compared to May, but your packaging is full of colorful hope. Goldfinches, robins, cardinals, flickers, purple finches, kinglets, fox sparrows, red-winged black birds, iridescent starlings, blue jays, song sparrows, white throats and Canada geese provide a visual variety we’ve been aching for. I don’t think anyone would hesitate to thank you for the daily increase of green that you impart. The pussy willows, peepers and wood frogs are also a nice touch.

Miss April, I want to thank you again for your largesse, but please don’t feel you need to try so hard to come up with unusual gifts. Your warm presence is present enough.


Barb Fernald

Barbara Fernald lives, writes and makes jewelry on Islesford (Little Cranberry Island).