By Roger Chambers
April is a transitional month. While the days are typically in the mid-50s°F, they might be nearly summer-like at times, with a record high of 90°F in 1962. On the other hand, it nearly always snows in April, but normally only a couple of inches of the white stuff that usually melts within a few days. Though a record low of 8°F was in 1982, frost usually occurs only a few times during the month.
The perennial garden flowers of April include purple crocuses and white snowdrops, fragrant hyacinths of pink, purple, and other colors, mostly yellow daffodils, and tulips with various shades of red, yellow and orange. Blooming ground phlox at this time of year led the Iroquois to call April the Full Pink Moon.
As the sun comes higher in the sky and evening daylight is longer, and the air and soil warm, April is the ideal month to get a start on the garden with crops that are not terribly frost sensitive. These include peas, root crops like beets, carrots and onions, and lettuce, spinach, and a wide variety of greens. Dandelion greens in early spring prior to blooming are a wonderful wild green, either raw in salads or lightly cooked in olive oil with garlic.
Holidays and Observance of April
April 1 Easter; April Fools’ Day
April 2 Florida Pascua Day
April 8 Orthodox Easter
April 12 Halifax Day – North Carolina
April 13 Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday
April 15 Pan American Day
April 16 Patriots Day – Maine and Massachusetts
April 21 San Jacinto Day – Texas
April 22 Earth Day
April 25 Professional Assistant’s Day
April 27 National Arbor Day
With the exception of Easter many years, April has no real holidays. Because it coincides with spring and warmer weather, it is a common time of year for individual, city, and community organized cleanups of yards, gardens, parks, and roadsides. Since the 1970s, Earth Day, April 22, is a day devoted to environmental cleanup and awareness. This often includes educational activities and seminars on the many environmental problems that we have.
Efforts for greater education and making improvements in recycling, bicycle paths, energy efficiency, clean water and air, and the importance of environmental regulations are all issues deserving greater public attention. In an era of drastic cuts in the Environmental Protection Agency and the repudiation by the Trump Administration of the Paris climate accords, these efforts at public education and action on these issues will likely play an even more important role in promoting environmental health.
It is also no coincidence that Arbor Day is also celebrated in the spring. This promotes, with thousands of trees given away to be planted, along with educational programs on the importance of planting trees. These environmental issues of cleanups and tree plantings and public gardens often merge into community-wide events in April and May as people recover from sometimes harsh winters.
April is the month the bicycles are brought out for the season. Trout season opens and fishermen take to the streams and lakes throughout the region. Runners start training in earnest for July’s Boilermaker fifteen-kilometer road race and people start taking to the tennis courts and the many golf courses in the area. After the long winter we have had, with four major nor’easter in three weeks, most people will welcome the longer evenings and eventually warmer days of spring.
In the Night Skies
April is a month of conjunctions, listed below. Early in the month, this includes Mars and Saturn, the Moon and Jupiter, and the Moon with Mars and Saturn all to the east or south. On the 17th, the Moon appears close to Venus in the western evening. Mars is increasing in brightness to a Magnitude 0, and Venus is especially bright in the western evening sky, to become even higher and brighter into the late summer.
April 1-3: Conjunction of Mars and Saturn, to the south and east after 2 a.m.
April 2-3 Conjunction of the Moon with Jupiter, after 10 p.m. to the east
April 7: Conjunction of the Moon with Mars and Saturn, after 2 a.m., pre-dawn.
April 8: The Moon’s Last Quarter
April 1: New Moon
April 17: Conjunction of the waning Crescent Moon and Venus, in the west after sunset
April 22: First Quarter Moon
April 29: Full Pink Moon