April’s dirty fingernails

Mid-April, the temps are rising, the humidity low. This is when Betsy and I love to get our fingernails dirty immediately after our annual run to Lowe’s to buy a few pots of geraniums and marigolds for our deck and something larger to place in the big pot on our small front porch as a greeting to visitors. This year, we chose a robust bucket of orange impatiens.

In “Charles Kuralt’s America,” the late journalist singled out Chapel Hill as the place in our country he would most rather be during April. Once the yellow pine pollen has ceased to coat everything and now fades away, this university town brings forth its most beautiful colors. The Bradford pears lead the parade with their white-blossom glory, followed by redbud, and then by mid-April, dogwood and azalea appear seemingly everywhere, showing off.

One of my friends, a pharmacologist by trade and a gentleman farmer on the side, used to point out that this area offers a near-perfect six months of pleasant weather. Chapel Hillians usually can count on the last frost occurring about the middle of April, and the first one in the fall arrives on or about October 15. Six months. The better half of the year.

Not everyone loves April in Chapel Hill. Even as I write this, I interrupt myself with a spasm of several energetic sneezes. Those of us with seasonal allergies do pay a price for a flowering spring, and I haven’t yet met anyone who loves the pine pollen.

But how we love the beauty and the mild temperatures. It’s time to turn off the heat and sleep with the windows open. And to get a little dirt under our fingernails. Welcome, April.


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