As published in the White River Current - Thursday April 22, 2015
April Showers bring May Flowers. I read that this phrase goes all the way back to the mid 16th century. It seems that a poet and farmer named Thomas Tusser wrote the book “A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry” and in the April Section, the following poem was written: “Sweet April showers do Spring May flowers.” Does this simple two-line poem with obscure origins mean that April is the rainy season and May is the beginning of Spring and all the likely new flowers growing in the meadows? Sure, why not? Widely accepted, right? So, is rain good? Well, sometimes. I remember another little two-line poem: “Rain, rain, go away; come again another day. So, sometimes spring showers may be troublesome – like when they cause a baseball game to be cancelled or when you get caught without an umbrella and get your clothes soaked. Or, even worse, when the rain comes down in buckets and causes flooding. When I was a boy, Spring floods were common. This was a primary reason for the erection of the dams that help to keep our riverfront cities from being flooded. As I recall, the last major flood in Calico Rock, when the river water was over the railroad tracks, was in 1951. There have been a couple of occasions when the water covered a portion of highway 5 for a day or two, once in the early 80’s and again about 25 years later. Video of the last flood, when a house was washed off its foundation and floated downstream to be demolished when it hit the highway 5 bridge, made every national news channel. You can still catch this video on YouTube (yes, that’s Peggy’s voice in the background). But, spring showers are a wonderful thing – they help plants grow!
And, did you know that even lightning can help plants grow? A flash of lightning gives off enough electric energy and heat to make oxygen and nitrogen combine into nitrates that mix with the rain to fertilize the plants. Amazing how nature works. Way back in the 1920’s, two enterprising song writers were inspired to write a song that was made famous by a popular singer of that era, Al Jolson. The chorus of the song went like this: Though April showers may come your way, They bring the flowers that bloom in May; And if it’s raining, have no regrets; Because, it isn’t raining rain, you know, it’s raining violets. And when you see clouds upon the hill, You soon will see crowds of daffodils; So keep on looking for the bluebird, and listening for his song, Whenever April showers come along. Give yourself a treat and listen to Al sing this wonderful little ditty on YouTube. Better yet, check out the video, “The Jolson Story,” and listen to some of his other famous songs. He was quite an entertainer, performing sometime in blackface. This would be unheard of in these times. I remember that one of his most requested numbers was “Mammy.” From a kneeling position, he emotionally declared, I’d walk a million miles for one of your smiles, My Mammy. They don’t write songs like that anymore (did I hear a “thank goodness”). Well, things do change as well as likes and dislikes, varying from one person to another, from one age group to another, from country/rock to the golden oldies. And, the seasons change, sometime dry, sometime wetter than normal. Patience through the most unpleasant times, like April showers, will eventually lead to beauty, like May flowers. Remember this on those rainy Spring days. Speaking of time (we were, weren’t we), tomorrow, April 24th, is a huge day for you techies. That is the day that the new Apple IWatch goes on sale. Now I wouldn’t be surprised if many of you readers have already pre-ordered one of these marvels. Shades of Dick Tracy! I was a big fan of this comic strip detective when I was growing up. That item on his left arm was his wrist-radio that he used to communicate with police headquarters. Such fantasy, we thought. Never happen, we said. Well, it has, and all of you will want one. It’s like having a miniature IPad on your wrist. Want to send a message to someone? You don’t need a querty keyboard, just speak the message and your watch will recognize your voice and type for you. Take and send photos. Listen to music. Get phone calls. Get maps. Ask Siri a question. And, of all things, you can even get the correct time of day.