Just a sliver of dirty snow can been seen among the dried leaves and tree branches that fell during the winter in the woods behind my house.

Those dead leaves and twigs and branches are also scattered around the lawn.

A pile of organic debris and soil lines a section of the driveway where the plow guy pushed the snow throughout the winter. And the driveway itself is a mud pit gouged with tire tracks.

The bog down the hill has a few remnants of winter ice, but that will soon disappear.

Those elegant, at the time, dried sunflowers attached to six-foot stalks, sprouting from the edge of the garden and lawn now look downright drab and broken.

April is a time for taking stock of the lawn, the garden, the driveway, the back woods, the various perennial gardens and anything else that may have been outdoors during the winter months.

In many ways, the time between the complete melting of the snow and the growth of the rich, green grass can be considered drab and uninviting.

But that’s definitely not the case.

The bird feeder has perked up considerably. The black and white, red-capped downey and hairy woodpeckers have given way to brilliant yellow goldfinches and an occasional warbler. The black-capped chickadees are still around, but most of them are much more interested in mating. Nuthatches and titmice are returning, as are the gentle mourning doves and the sometimes noisy robins.

And if I look really close at the leaves and other debris still to be raked from the yard and perennial stone planters, I see daffodils and tulips poking up through the soil and mulch, day lilies clustered on both the west and east sides of the house, and several brightly colored lavendar crocuses. The green of the Oriental poppies has returned, and once the snow melted from the planters, I found about a dozen purple or yellow pansies just waiting to get free.

All the lilac bushes, even the tiny one at the northwest corner of the house, are budding. Buds are swelling on the ancient maples and the old Wealthy and Baldwin apple trees. The grass beginning to grow in the backyard is longingly watched by the geese who can barely wait to get out and begin grazing. Huge pine cones are scattered everywhere there may be a stately old pine.

The deer have devastatingly “pruned” my young elderberry bushes, reducing their size from over 6 feet to a mere 4. They did the same thing last year and I wondered what would happen.

What happened was that pruning produced my first crop of bittersweet, tiny purple berries which are turned into absolutely delicious jelly.

April is a time for cleaning up everything, inside and out, but it’s also a time to take in the change of season, the new growth, and to marvel at the earth.

Everywhere there is new life.

A few brave black with white stripe admiral butterflies flit here and there. Some yellow jackets have returned from their hibernation, and the house flies have suddenly appeared. No black flies yet, and that makes April a perfectly wonderful month.

And it doesn’t matter whether we are 20 or 90 years old, every year is a delightful surprise. Every year is as much of a miracle as the year before and the year before that. Every year is a joy.

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