The music of spring

Ed Smith
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“Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
the droghte of March hath perced to the roote...”

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking Smith has finally lost it and is about to blame it on his computer, as always.

“Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote

the droghte of March hath perced to the roote...”

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking Smith has finally lost it and is about to blame it on his computer, as always.

Not only do I refute both tenets in that line, but also absolutely reject the notion that my mind is running to unintelligible words. The lines above are written in perfectly good English. Were you alive in the time of Geoffrey Chaucer or thereabouts, you would have found it perfectly clear and understandable.

Of course, Chaucer lived in the 12th century, and this was the language he and everyone else spoke. I’m just showing off my English major at Mount Allison. In modern English, a free translation would be, “When the sweet showers of April have penetrated the dry ground of March to the roots. ...”

It goes on to say in so many words that spring is about here and that’s the time people like to take pilgrimages. He then proceeds to write his “Canterbury Tales,” a long poem about a group of people on a pilgrimage to Canterbury who entertain each other with stories to relieve the tedium of a long walk. It is still an entertaining read.

There is another poem/song about April showers made famous by Al Jolson back in the 1920s.

Though April showers may come your way,

they bring the flowers, that bloom in May.

So if it’s raining, have no regrets,

it’s not raining rain you know, it’s raining violets.

Obviously, neither poem nor song was written by anyone who experienced a Newfoundland spring. If a similar thing were to be written by a Newfoundlander, it might go something like this:

Though April storm clouds may come your way,

they spawn the blizzards that leave snow in May.

So if it’s raining one thing you know,

it’s not raining rain, of course, it soon will turn to snow.

Apologies to Al Jolson, although like Chaucer, his day is done.

I suppose having said all that, we do have to admit that April crocai (crocuses) do show their brave little noses above the ground in May. So do some species of rhubarb, the best kind for making wine — stalks slender and cherry red. I’ve ruined enough of it to know.

April is also Easter time, the time for Easter parades and new clothes for Easter Sunday and, of course, the Easter bonnet. There’s a song about that, too. Judy Garland sang it in the movie “Easter Parade.”

In your Easter bonnet with all the frills upon it

You’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade.

I could write a sonnet about your Easter bonnet,

and of the girl I’m taking to the Easter Parade.

Again, it might have been written somewhat differently if Irving Berlin had been a Newfoundlander.

In your sealskin bonnet with all the fur upon it,

you’ll be the warmest lady in the Easter Parade.

You’d be proud to don it with seal fur ears upon it,

the only girl not shivering in the Easter Parade.

I’m rather proud of that one — apologizing to no one.

You’ve heard of the perfect storm. That’s where three weather systems combine to create an intense storm. You probably saw the movie of the same name in which the Andrea Gail is lost with all hands.

April is the time of year in which we find ourselves engulfed in the perfect sports scenario. The Toronto Maple Leafs are ending a disastrous season, the Toronto Raptors are God knows where and the Toronto Blue Jays are beginning their own yearly version of “Screw the fans.” And, of course, they have their seasonal song.

Take me out to the ballgame

take me out with the Jays.

Buy me some peanuts and lots of booze

so like the Leafs I can still watch them lose.

Let me root, root, root for the losers,

so I can wear that old Blue Jays hat,

for it’s “One - two - three strikes you’re out!”

When the Blue Jays come to bat.

I could add to that perfect sports trilogy by mentioning something to which most parents can, or once upon a time could, really relate. That’s the week during Easter when minor hockey tournaments take place across the province. Lovely, you say. That opportunity to spend time with your young hockey player in another community — several hours away.

And so it was, lovely. Bonding, it was, of the highest order. The bonding took place as he hurtled out the car door when we got to his billet. And just in time to join the other boys scouting out this new territory for persons of a similar age, but decidedly different gender, who might also be doing some scouting of their own on the new arrivals.

Time for more bonding as he hurtled out of the dressing room next morning with his team taking to the ice. And still more bonding when you spotted him on the road with the rest of the team looking for girls or trouble with the local lads — in that order.

Real bonding took place a couple of days after you got home and he finally woke up, and you finally thawed out from the perishing cold of the stadium. Yes, lovely it was. Bonding.

And the final lovely poetic comment of them all concerning April.

Oh to be in England now that April’s there.

My version?

Oh to be in England now that April’s here.

Ed Smith is an author who lives in

Springdale. His email address is

Organizations: Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors

Geographic location: May.So, Canterbury, Newfoundland England

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