Tuesday, 30 April 2019

April's end, the summer's beginning

To T.S Eliot, April might have been the cruellest month, but then he lived in England before climate change had set in. To me, April is the most beautiful month, a miraculous month. From the 1st to the 30th of April, the day's length in Warsaw extends by nearly two hours. The sun now sets at eight; on 30 March it had set at six. The clocks going forward at the end of March yielded an extra evening daylight hour, at the cost of a morning's daylight hour occurring when most of us are asleep anyway*.

The trees, bare at the beginning of April are now fully in leaf; most of the fruit trees have exploded into blossom, bur have by now lost their flowers. Joy, joy, joy - and a whole summer ahead. The warmth returns in April; at daybreak on 1 April it was -1C; by the afternoon of 26 April it was 28C.

The process of spring - the rebirth - is complete. It took a month and it's done, summer is here. Of course there will be colder days (snow on 3 May, the Ice Saints and Zimna Zośka) but in essence spring is over and summer's here to stay - may it stay with us well into October!

But the passing of April leaves me with a feeling of transience; May is lush and green and June is dry, but as summer matures under escalating storm clouds one becomes inured to the heat and light. April, coming at the end of the przednówek is desperately needed. Polish winters stretch out much longer than on the British Isles, where flowers can be seen blooming at the end of January.

Below: trees in flower, Jeziorki, photos taken this week. Most of the blossom has since gone.

I will miss April!

The thought that there is an April keeps me going in those dark months, particularly November - when the hammer of darkness comes down, and in the przednówek of mid-February to mid-March when the Frost Gods have retreated but gloom and damp prevail. My father recalls a prewar saying Na Grzegorza  odpędza się zimę do morza ("On St Gregory's Day, winter is chased off to the sea"). Before the Second Vatican Council, St Gregory's Day was celebrated on 12 March; now the feast falls upon 3 September. Before global warming, Poland's rivers would be generally ice-bound for much of the winter, but by mid-March the ice-floes would make their way to the Baltic.

[*There is still no resolution as to the European daylight-saving time issue; my suggestion is to extend summer time by one month so the clocks go back (as they do now) two months before winter solstice at the end of October, but go forward a month earlier - at the end of February, two months after winter solstice - and not a asymmetric three as they do now. This would lift our spirits on March evenings!]

This time last year:
Best April ever?

This time two years ago:
The search for the Gold Train: Day Two

This time three years ago:
Semi-automatic (short story)

This time seven years ago:
So good to be back in Warsaw

This time eight years ago:
At the President's

This time ten years ago:
Summer's here, and the time is right...

This time 12 years ago:
Why I'm staying in Warsaw

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