This April, try to nurture a garden of hope

April 5, 2020

T.S. Eliot, in his epic poem, “The Waste Land,” wrote, “April is the cruelest month ... .” It is the opening line of the biggest migraine-inducer in literature.

Of course, most of us college English majors had no idea what the rest of the poem meant, with its incomprehensible language and childish references, but we did know it was long and it was required reading. It almost kept us from that weekend party – almost, but not quite.

Of course, April doesn’t have to be cruel, and it doesn’t have to be filled with bleak images. But we do know that the month of April is meant to be a transition and a renewal. Somehow things are out of alignment. It’s as if the stars and the planets don’t quite line up in a logical pattern. It’s off-center, like an abundance of circumstances in our lives.

And now, we have to add to this upcoming April nonsense the reality of dealing with a virus so potent it requires all measure of caution and restrictions.

For instance, in this period of isolation, there probably isn’t a single closet or drawer in Sussex County that hasn’t been rearranged, cleaned out, wiped down or fumigated. Sweaters and poodle skirts from the ‘50s are piled in a heap, now out in the open, forever exposed. Even the occasional platform shoe left over from disco days is in danger of being laughed out of the house. Mine were electric orange and looked like I had two Legos attached to my feet. And let’s not forget those elephant pants that you could drive a truck through. Many a loser date is burned into my memory with some of these ensembles.

Summer clothes are to the right and winter clothes are to the left. With this kind of  organization, you’ll be lucky to find that goiter you’ve been hiding when this is all over. On and on the cleaning goes, until happy hour starts around lunch. Some work ethics require readjusting too.

Now with all these restrictions, you may want to take a break and relax with something fun to take your mind off all this. Many folks are turning to puzzles; especially the 3,000-4,000 pieces of, say, the face of every signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Forget looking for toilet paper in the stores. You will spend the better part of your day and night, when you are close to finishing the puzzle, searching for that one missing piece that is usually under the dining room table, which you can no longer find either. It’s always an end piece disguised as a middle piece. Eventually, happy hour will begin at 10 a.m.

Yes, spring is supposedly here. And April with its transition will mimic life. You bounce off the walls of joy, happy and content. Before you know it, you are traversing the narrow path of anxiety, treacherous with its landmines of confusion and uncertainty. Nothing stays level. It’s April. It’s spring.

And so at this time of restriction, we can look to the earth. We dig, we sow, we plant and we refurbish. We cover up that worn-looking rug of a garden with fresh mulch, hoping the nutrients will push it along. We prune dead limbs, giving new life to the young branches that find room to spread their wings. Occasionally we find that abandoned nest; we shake our head, glad the occupants found shelter through the winter and confident they will be back. It’s April; it’s supposed to be transitioning.

Yes, this virus is breaking our hearts. It too is busy planting – planting seeds of panic and distrust. But we are strong, resilient people and don’t surrender easily. So find some humor and keep those less fortunate in your April garden of hope. Stay well.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.

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