Two days ago, I passed by a second-story window and instead of observing as usual that it needs cleaning, then, as usual, ignoring my observation, I was stunned to see that the crab apple trees, which had been bare just a day or so before, now look like this!
Today, I looked at the weather report. Snow tonight. April Fools!
I once watched a crow trial in one of those trees, in fall or winter when the leaves were gone. April Fool’s Day — in Britain, All Fools Day — is said to commemorate the crow, who set out to find land from Noah’s Ark and failed. In most versions, however, the sinful bird was a raven.
Yet the bird generally associated with the day is the cuckoo, who returns in April and is so elusive the poet Wordsworth wondered, “shall I call thee bird/or but a wandering voice?” (I have seen and heard that wandering voice just once, as I was hiking on the Aran Islands.)
An April Fool was originally a person sent on an errand to fetch something nonexistent, like hen’s teeth. One year, my children’s favorite fool’s errand was to send their friends home to “ask your mom who’s the admiral of the Swiss Navy.”
Like other holidays when folk make “fools” of themselves, dress up, anoint kings and the like, April Fool’s Day marks a vacation from life’s serious conventions. And the fool naturally symbolizes a fresh start.
But now I fear for the crab apple trees. They have been fooled into blooming and, if the weather stays cold for a few days, won’t share their sudden beauty, their harbinger of new beginnings, for long.