And as far as cruelty goes, I think T.S. Eliot was being a bit overly dramatic when he suggested that these 30 greening days in the fourth month of the year were the cruelest. I can think of many other months that offer far more by way of cruelty.
Perhaps as a Midwesterner transplanted to England, Eliot never had the opportunity to walk deep into a northern forest in the first days of March—snows slowly pulling their tongues back into the earth’s mouth—to see winterkill huddled beneath hemlock boughs: the carcasses of deer withered on January’s barren fruit; the corpses of porcupines who weren’t fast enough to evade the brutal teeth of fisher; or even the rare bear who trudged too soon from slumber and found nothing but the empty taste of ashes in its belly.
By April, at least here in central Pennsylvania, the entire ridge-side is burgundy with the tiny blossoms of sugar and red maples. The coltsfoot has already discarded its yellow-fringed flower, and May apple is unfurling the glossy umbrella that will hide its fruit in June and July.