Guest Column

From early childhood I have always looked forward to the arrival of spring—the budding of flowering forsythia, soon followed by the tender crocus plants, breaking through the warm soil after a long winter’s nap; the cheerful faces of colorful pansies soon to be replaced by beds of daffodils and a wide variety of colorful tulips, standing tall as if reaching for the sun.

As a finale to the arrival of spring, flowering dogwoods offer beautiful displays of pink and white blooms.

April also brought the return of red-breasted robins, hopping from one spot to another, heads cocked to one side as if listening for the sound of plump worms in soil below.

With the arrival of the robins, I would wake each morning to the joyful sounds of birds chirping and singing as if to greet the rising sun.

April also welcomed the return of our chipmunk family from the long winter’s hibernation. A tiny little creature would suddenly appear from its winter den and immediately begin what appeared to be a panicky search for food, only to find an abundant supply of acorns and hickory nuts, which she would stuff into both cheeks until she appeared to double in size. Only then would she scamper back to the den with her bounty of food.

In late June the fruits of the little chipmunk’s efforts became apparent as she surfaced from the den followed by five tiny pups, half her size, scampering in some semblance of a line behind mom, tails uniformly raised, enjoying their introduction to a new world.

As a very young child, April was special to me. This was the month my young mother would take my older brother and me to a local greenhouse and allow each of us to purchase one tray of potted flowering plants that we would take home, plant and care for in a designated portion of our flower bed. This was my mother’s way of passing on her love of flowers to us, something I have shared throughout my life.

One April, as we walked through the greenhouse, my mother suggested that instead of buying flowers we could each buy a fruit tree. How exciting this was to us. We returned home with one apple, one peach and one cherry tree. These were planted in our yard and treated with tender care for all of the years I lived at home. Every summer the cherry tree was filled with cherries, which we reluctantly shared with hungry birds.

The arrival of April meant that we would prepare our old, wooden rowboat for return from winter storage. After minor repairs and a coat of fresh paint, the little rowboat would be launched.

April was my favorite time to explore Hampton’s Indian River Creek by boat. I would row between the islands, now sprouting bright green swamp grass and light brown cattails. The islands were full of evidence that spring had arrived.

Between the islands I would spy a mother duck followed by six chicks, paddling by. On the perimeter of the island, graceful, long-legged egrets searched for minnows or small crabs.

Between cattail reeds, a muskrat, fresh out of winter hibernation, watched with amusement as the leaky, old boat glided by. Crawfish scurried across the muddy banks. Colorful birds took flight with strands of dried sea grass destined for nest building.

Returning to the dock, the boat would pass under the graceful branches of weeping willows hanging over the creek bank. A bed of multi-colored azaleas was now bursting with colorful blooms, encircling the willows.

April was in evidence everywhere—renaissance, a time of new life, a time of hope and anticipation of new life opportunities. April is to be celebrated.

About Charles (Buddy) Alligood 11 Articles
Charles (Buddy) Alligood is a retired vice president of engineering and quality control who, in retirement, enjoys golf, gardening, and alternating visits between the North Carolina mountains and beaches. He can be reached at budlite61@gmail.com.

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