April is the cruelest month*

[I usually tell a story about some particular animal, bird, bug, or plant in my blog, and recently I have been bingeing on The Gambia. But I know that some of you are always curious about what is happening in my corner of Maine, so this is a sort of current affairs report from Lake Wobegon, and then I may go back to The Gambia for a while! It’s a long blog, with no special storyline, just early spring in Western Maine.]

When the month began, it was was definitely still winter:

Snowstorm, April Fools Day

But as the month unfolded, life poked through

Buds swelled:

Striped Maple

some with the promise of flowers soon to follow, their tightly knotted buds making a bird out of the unfolding leaves:


Red Maples flowered in a distant red haze:

and in close-up:

Male Weeping Willow catkins opened:

A few brave early wildflowers opened too. Trailing Arbutus, usually white but occasionally a luscious pink:

or an early violet.

Northern White Violet

Or Bloodroot, complete with the necessary insect to pollinate it:

Migratory songbirds returned, some to stay, and some passing through en route to the far North:

House Finch
Eastern Bluebird

Song Sparrow

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Common Grackle

Waterbirds came back too, some while the ponds were still partially iced over, and my kayak invisible under the snow:

Hooded Mergansers in flight
Male Wood ducks
Canada Geese

Some came a little later:

Blue Heron

Some are only passing through:


The beaver emerged from their lodges and left scent mounds around the shoreline:

The deer, in their grey winter coats and hungry from a long lean winter, came out at dusk near the house to graze:

The ferns pushed up their swaddled fronds:


Even the lichens and the mosses unfurled their spore capsules:

Pink Earth Lichen

My title is of course the first line of T. S. Eliot’s ‘The Wasteland’. We may yet get more snow, but it won’t stay long, and all the promise of an incipient spring lies in the air, giving the lie to “April’s cruelty”. If you need proof, even the swallows have returned, swooping low over the pond in the rain.

Tree swallows

PS I sent this out this morning, April 30, because the forecast was for rain all day, which meant no chance of adding more photos on this last day of the month. But then the rain eased up for an hour, out I went, and these are the result

A Red Trillium, or Wake-Robin (such a charming name):

And the Hobblebush earlier in this post, with the flowers just opened:

5 thoughts on “April is the cruelest month*”

  1. Exquisite photos…especially the Pink Earth Lichen and the male Wood Ducks! You should be a contributor to Nat Geo! We certainly live in a paradise, here on Earth, when you know where to look!!


  2. [Background: we have had extraordinary rain and flooding where we live in the past week. Roads are flooded, lakes and streams are much much higher than normal.]

    What a worrying question. I assume you mean that it might have risen so high that the interior of the lodge is underwater? They can swim from the day they are born, which in Maine is usually late May, so hopefully the water may have gone down by the time they are born. So they could swim out, which is how they would leave anyway. But they would then be very vulnerable on land.


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