For all the students preparing for History and English Lit finals in upcoming weeks, here is a seasonal interest piece just for you!
In 1157, collection of writings by Thomas Tusser, “A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry,” there is a poem. A familiar poem by today’s standards, but probably would not pass the grade in class due to its brief length. It goes as follows:
“Sweet April showers
Do spring May flowers”
If you really wanted to to score some extra credit points, check out what Geoffrey Chaucer wrote in the 14th Century:
“Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;”
Flowery language indeed! Even the translation needs some translating…
“When in April the sweet showers fall
That pierce March’s drought to the root and all
And bathed every vein in liquor that has power
To generate therein and sire the flower;”
There was a saying penned in 1886 stating, “March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers,” which in this shortened version makes the grade. Weather is a good teacher. While waiting patiently for the showers of April to soak the roots of plants, we can look forward to the abundance of beauty in May. Waxing poetic about rain and flowers is only half of the equation, just when you thought the lessons were over ~ yes, there is math and science involved.
According to biology professor David W. Inouye of the University of Maryland, some plants which flower at the start of the rainy season might flower a second time after a soaking rain in late summer. Difficult to find a way to make that rhyme! In actuality, most first flowers respond to warm temperatures more than the rain. This is a common occurrence in Denver, “false springs,” warm spells that initiate flowering but, are followed by a hard frost, thus killing early flowers. Scientists have been collecting data over the years indicating it is not that plants don’t have enough water in the spring because many places in the U.S. receive ample rainfall in April. The early onset of warmer, temperatures are prematurely setting flower cycles. Will we see a change in the poem to read “Warm temperatures in March bring April flowers?” Plants are adaptable, as long as they have a “rest,” or dormant period. Think of it as a “chill out” time. In order to pop back up for a new school season, students are looking forward to “chilling out.” If that period of time does not occur it sets up a cycle of failure, even for plants.
This poem is a reminder that even the most unpleasant of things like wet, heavy, slushy, snowy weather, can bring about enjoyable things ~ an abundance of flowers in May and the end of a long school year. In the wise words of Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Milton Johnson, “Have you had a season of setbacks, disappointments or hindrances? Do not be dismayed. Remember these things: there has never been a wind that did not change directions, clouds do not hang forever and April showers [do] bring May flowers.”