April

by Max Akroyd

One day last summer we visited a beach. It was new to us, a lovely little cove that sheltered us from the wind on that otherwise hot day.

There were a few people there: some tourists who, like us, headed for the flat, open sands and set up camp in the sun. Then there were the locals who sat right at the back of the cove, which puzzled us a bit because they were sitting in partial shade. But we went about enjoying our day; the children built castles and other, less recognisable, structures and the adults let the sun and the sea erase their thoughts.

The reason for the locals’ location became apparent soon enough. A shallow but inexorable tide slid rapidly up the beach, engulfing equally the children’s creations and the more sophisticated cares of the adults. A stampede of wet-towel bearing, but wiser, foreigners headed for the back of the cove and the amused smiles of the locals.

I only mention all this because, in all but one respect, April is just like March. You can sow more or less the same stuff, just with slightly more confidence it won’t get slugged or frozen. The potential harvest is still very limited: flowers may appear everywhere but the vegetable garden is still mustering its strength and the hungry gap continues… alleviated only by some brassicas, salad leaves and rhubarb.

The key difference between April and March is that nature is now joining the fun. March conferred an illusion of control, April’s tide of weeds and other natural growth will sweep that away. A little local knowledge will help avoid getting swamped, but can never stop the tide itself.

It’s not something to be happy or sad about. And I suppose it’s good for us, in a way.