Friday, April 12, 2019

Sometimes it Snows in April

Only once in my life had I seen an April snow. I was a child, there was thunder, and in a brief but hearty spurt of winter, giant flakes accelerated toward the ground. It wasn't magical, it was eerie.

Now, living in Minnesota, I can fully connect with the metaphor written into the Prince song I listened to as a teenager in New York. Here's why...

The arrival of the robins, first week of April.

Sunday, the southerly winds introduce warm air to cold ground; fog their conversation.

It was spring. The sap told it.

Fresh mushrooms and garlic mustard told it.

The chorus frogs playing their combs told it.

So pleasant it was, combative crows and hawks sat together in harmony.

But, then, it wasn't.

Day one filled out with about eight inches of heavy, wet, snow.

Day two, today, has been wind blown snow, ice pellets tink-tink-tinking the windows, and quickly arising thunderstorms. Not as much snow as last year's three day, April blizzard, but just as disappointing.

April, sometimes.

dust from texas falls on minnesota blizzard april 2019
There was several minutes, at various points of the day, when the skies turned distinctly darker, distinctly yellow. This phenomenon, you may have seen it, can be seen when thunderstorms pass overhead, particularly in winter. So the color of the snow, in those moments, seemed a reflection of the sky, until I noticed the different coloration, blue-white, on the leeward side of snowy features -the steps, the roof fall...

dust from texas falls on minnesota blizzard april 2019
The fire ring. Like a blurred image of a moon crater taken from an earth telescope, the snow took on the contours of the rocks beneath and then sculpted, softly, by wind and shaded in relief by red-beige particles blowing northward across the land. The color was everywhere, and the limits of my imagination concocted that it was created by wind-driven ice pellets scouring the trees. But I was skeptical, this felt familiar -that I had experienced this before -so I asked the Internet.

Brown is dust from Chihuahua Desert. Click for motion Gif.
Consider that the uncovered soils of the Mexico, Texas and New Mexico -in this season, their windy season (I lived in the Chihuahua Desert for three years; experienced the wind and the grit in my teeth), can be drawn all the way up to Minnesota by a powerful low pressure. What happens down there, then, also happens up here -their soils are now our soils.

Eastern Pheobe snowstorm
The Eastern Phoebe, an early spring arrival to our house and woods. We often have to chase its nest building off of doorways and gutters, and this year is no different. Our plan is to build a nesting site for this couple, but haven't quite gotten there yet. The blizzard has been a frustration for the bird, as much as us, as they mix a mud-like substance with twigs and dried grass to attach the nest to metal or wood, and these items are not available due to the new snow cover. Yet another way April can bring trouble to the arriving birds. The phoebes flew into our glass windows several times in the blizzard, looking confused, looking for a place out of the snow and wind.

Today, Friday, it continues to snow. I cannot clear the driveway as the gravel is soft from a complete defrosting, and the blower clogs immediately with the heavy, cement-like snow. I will move on to building raised beds for folks now that the wind has died down and I'm comfortable in the metal shed that sits beneath the soft-wooded, often hollow, basswood that rises 70 feet above it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

If I do not respond to your comment right away, it is only because I am busy pulling out buckthorn, creeping charlie, and garlic mustard...