Monday, April 5, 2010

5 April 2010 April, come she will

5 April 2010 April, come she will

The lyric to a Simon and Garfunkel song from the late 1960’s elbows its way into my consciousness this morning.

Seemingly overnight the ground has changed from muddy brown to a velvet-looking green, a color and apparent texture only present in the early spring. It brings promise of wild flowers and crops growing in rows in dark, rich bottom land and flood plains. The trees have rocketed past the fuzzy, hazy, light gray-green into brightly colored flowering towers announcing the season change.

April, however, is not always the peaceful harbinger that song and poetry proclaim it. On the front range of the Rockies, in the high Sierra, the Cascades, and in the northern Appalachian ranges, April often brings heavy snows; wet, branch-breaking, roof-collapsing snows that add huge amounts of run-off to the spring floods that scour the river valleys and remind us that we don’t really control rivers.

On the prairies between the Rockies and the Appalachians, April heralds the season of whirling winds. Those lands are subject to tornadoes that drop from super cells to wipe towns off the map. They strike with warning of probable but no certain appearance. They can hit at any time of day but because of the nature of the heat engines that fuel them they often strike when it is most difficult to protect against them and most difficult to see them. The terrible blackness of a funnel cloud on the ground is magnified by the eye’s inability to pick it out from the darkness of a super-cell thunderstorm after sunset. When only the brilliant arcing from destroyed electrical transformers marks the funnel’s path, when only swirling shadows backlit by the almost continual lightning that accompanies many of the most severe storms provides any hope of spotting the actual funnels as they approach; April loses all undertones of peace and tranquility.

All too quickly the velvet softness that marks onset of April gives ground to weeds. In the Cassi Creek valley we are afflicted with Japanese knot weed. Akin to kudzu in invasiveness, inedible by anyone with a working palate, nearly impossible to destroy, April heralds the battle to prevent the hand gun range and creek access from being overgrown with the horrid stuff. It also lines the banks of the creek, from our property north to the creek’s disappearance into the dry portion of the creek bed. It’s time to break out our supply of 2,4,5,T, analogous to “Round Up” or “Agent Orange.” The temperatures at night are now warm enough to make the application effective. I dislike using herbicides, particularly when the run-off will wind up in a trout stream. But I dislike the continual need to spend a day using a string trimmer to keep the weed from surging into the area between the house and the wooded part of our land.

April is an indication that I can turn off the lamps in the filter shack and just keep an eye on the night time low predictions. That’s several thousand watts of power saved/day. It means I don’t have to spend an hour or more carrying wood, emptying ashes, and feeding the stove. April promises a lot but comes with penalties.

I have yet to find a region of the nation which does not feature some plants which dispense large amounts of pollen that I am allergic to. My immune system recognizes no pollen and little dust or hair as friendly. I’ve spent many spring months loaded with anti-histamines in order to move any air past my nose. I’ve ingested, or been injected with, enough steroids to disqualify an entire Olympic team. And I’ve spent months of sleepless nights sweating out tornado warnings, in places with no basements, no central solid room, and no local radio or television to actually provide a timely warning when one of them is headed for my neighborhood.

April has much to offer. Trout streams are open. Snow that must be shoveled is less likely. Rains, if they arrive, wash down the dust and pollen from the air. And April is only 5 months from September and the onset of autumn, my favorite season.

April has run roughshod through the minds of my fellow students. The manner of dress on campus today was often hysterical in appearance. Fashion is a joke, clothing made for women by people who hate women. Equally a joke, jail fashion for black males made even more asinine in appearance when worn by white males trying to obtain a level of “cool” that they will never obtain.

There must be a shortage of shoes. For some reason flip-flops are considered adequate foot wear. I own a pair which never leaves the house. They are not adequate protection on uneven ground, not stable footwear on steps, slanted walks or paths, or any unpaved ground. They should never be allowed on aircraft where the risk of a crash or ditching exists.

I avoid fashion. Function defines form and I know what functions I plan on carrying out. That makes it easy to avoid clothing stores, malls, strip malls, and any shopping facility that doesn’t follow my dictum in stocking its shelves.

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