Winter in April

Jerry Apps

I'm looking out the window, and I see snow banks. How could this be? We were quickly pushing toward the end of April. Yes, April, not February.

Grapevines are covered by a late spring snowstorm on the App's homestead in Waushara County.

Two memories come to mind. Last year, 2017, by this time we had planted 200 trees at my farm, and a good bit of our vegetable garden. The potatoes were in, the radishes and lettuce were planted. A pair of bluebirds were going in and out of the birdhouse that stands near the garden. This year. The garden is buried in snow. I haven’t seen the bluebirds.

A second memory, a bit dimmer. The year was 1948 or 1949. I was in high school. We had planted our oats in mid-April, as was per usual during those years. In late May, I was driving our Farmall H tractor, which Dad bought a couple years earlier. I was discing the corn ground, a twenty-acre field that we had fall-plowed. And it was cold. Cold for May. But I ignored the cold as I enjoyed driving the tractor from the first day we had gotten it.

I finished discing about supper time. Pa was doing barn chores. “Dang cold for this time of year,” I said.

“Feels like snow,” Pa said.

“Can't be, it’s May,” I said.

It snowed five or six inches that night. No corn planting for a few days. My twin brothers built a snowman. It remained until the first week in June.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Just when you think you’ve got something figured out, you discover that you don’t, especially when it comes to weather.

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life.