The Working Waterfront

‘Here we go!’ time

Was the poet right about April?

By Barbara Fernald
Posted 2023-06-07
Last Modified 2023-06-07

In mid-March, the early afternoon sun was streaming through my kitchen window as I caught up with my friend Mary over a cup of tea. The warmth was appreciated but the angle of the sun meant “cozy time” would soon come to an end.

“I’m not ready for winter to be over! It feels like everyone is going to be here in about 5 minutes!” said my neighbor. She was not bemoaning the arrival old friends but talking about shifting gears into spring mode. Neither of us felt ready to be busy with all there is to do before the summer season starts, but there we were… and here we go!

This year, at the end of March, the first signs of spring are already showing up. Crocuses bloom against brown leaves while tulips and daffodils are just starting to poke up, beckoning me to reveal them further. My garlic plants are 4 inches tall and the chives are just high enough to snip.

Just this morning, after yesterday’s sunny warm-ish day, a cold front came through with a squall that dropped an inch of snow.

There is much promise right in front of me but I resist the urge to uncover my bulbs. They may yet need that leafy blanket. Instead I’ll gather what I need to start some seeds inside.

We still have to get through April, which has the potential to be what T.S. Eliot called, “the cruelest month.” Just this morning, after yesterday’s sunny warm-ish day, a cold front came through with a squall that dropped an inch of snow. Now, a few hours later, the sun is out and the unshaded ground is already bare. Meanwhile, the wind is blowing and the temperatures will not move out of the 30s for the rest of the day. It looks like cold rain for the weekend.

I used to dread April, but this year feels different to me. I feel neutral about the unpredictable weather and I’m glad to still have time to finish projects I didn’t get to in the winter. It will be a busy month, but the early signs of spring have helped me shrug off my reluctance to get back to work.

It lifts my spirits to hear the increase in bird song whenever I step outside. The warblers haven’t arrived yet, but the song sparrow and the white-throated sparrow are starting to sing and I hear cardinals running through their repertoire after a quiet winter.

Road side conversations at this time of year revolve around the ever shifting vernal backdrop.

“Have you heard any woodcocks yet?”

“No, but the saw-whet owl is back.”

“Any great blue herons?”

“When are the floats going in at the town dock?”

“Did you notice if the ice is out of Upper Hadlock Pond when you were off island today?”

“I can’t wait to start hearing peepers.”

Creative energy is in the air as artists and makers ramp up their production to be ready for the summer season. Bruce has just launched his boat and will soon set out his first loads of lobster traps. Boats that have been away all winter are coming back to the harbor.

Carpenters and contractors are able to work outside, adding hammers and saws to the spring soundtrack. The momentum feels contagious.

I text my friend Mary to say I’m going to take a quick walk to the post office. Does she want to come with me to get her mail so we can catch up a little before going back to work?

“I’ll be ready in five minutes,” she replies.

It has only been two weeks since we shared tea and lamented winter’s end. We are both happy to discover that we’ve made a fairly quick transition into feeling positive about our busy spring schedules. It’s a good thing because May only gets busier and then summer will come along in about five more minutes.

Barbara Fernald lives on Islesford (Little Cranberry Island). She may be reached at