Saturday, April 30, 2016

April is the cruelest month?


Today is the last day of April for the year of 2016. As most folks know, it is a month associated with the adage, "April showers bring May flowers." Throughout my years as a gardener, I have made the observation that April showers TAKE AWAY May flowers, and I've written about this a number of times, including an entry I made here on Blogger in 2012.

I've also written about another fact regarding April, which is an observation made by T.S. Eliot: "April is the cruelest month . . . Winter kept us warm, Covering earth in forgetful snow, feeding a little life with dried tubers." 

I was initially reminded (in 2011) of Eliot's quote by a resident of a home where I was doing volunteer work. And indeed in this year of 2016, April has been a cruel month for me, for two persons that I've known since the 1980's have died. I referred to this fact in the post I made this past Tuesday here on Blogger.

By having an interest in people, birds and flora, which are all part of creation that passes away, I am bound to experience the pain of loss, when any living entity passes from this life.

Especially if the one that passes is a person that I've known for a length of time, as was the case with Monsignor Robert B. O'Connor, who was one of the persons I knew that died this month. He was a monsignor from a church that I used to attend regularly, and, he can be seen in the picture below.



This photograph of him was taken at a party given by the church (in 2014), where he served for twenty-nine years, before he was "forced" into retirement when Cardinal Timothy Dolan resurrected a law that stated priests of a certain age could no longer serve as a church's pastor. It was a big loss to lose Father O'Connor to a transfer, but nothing compared to the loss of having him pass from this life.

However, during the eulogy his brother gave at the funeral, those in attendance were urged not to cry for Father O'Connor, rather we were encouraged to honor our beloved Monsignor by praying for vocations, and carrying out actions in a manner that would be like those performed by our dearly departed clergyman.

Indeed he was a very caring individual, especially for those most in need. How I can carry out his legacy will be a challenge. And at the moment my "charitable" actions will not reach a lot of folks, such as he did. But, hopefully, one of my works of mercy — which is to continue to be reverent in encouraging Victor, a man who also knew the Monsignor, will be helpful.

And I'm also hoping that my efforts to rescue Super, a Northern Flicker that had an accident in my hood will be instrumental in saving that bird's life. The prognosis is iffy, but The Wild Bird Fund (WBF), where Super is rehabbing, is making every effort on Super's behalf.

Be that as it may, rather The WBF can ultimately save Super's life, or rather I can provide Victor with the encouragement he needs, remains to be seen. But I still have to persevere and be fervent — as our Monsignor was — in my efforts to help all creation whenever I can.

At least I made a small step towards helping my urban bird community, by making the way birds experience my garden, even better. I did this by planting a crabapple tree, a favorite of birds. Immediately after I planted it, a number of bird types — including house finches — availed themselves of this awesome flora. 

They took no notice of the notion that "April is the cruelest month ...."  and, instead, they continued and continue to enjoy the blessings of the day. Finches have had their share of obstacles in life.

Their entire population was nearly wiped out in 1997, re their issues with eyesight; when they contracted a conjunctivitis-related disease that caused “infected birds (to) have red, swollen, watery, or crusty eyes (and) in extreme cases the eyes (became) swollen shut or crusted over, and the birds (became) essentially blind. (When) the infected birds (died), it (was) usually not directly from the conjunctivitis, but rather from starvation, exposure, or predation as a result of not being able to see. Some infected birds (did) recover."

This is one fact re house finches which is included in Cam's book, "Words In Our Beak Volume One."



In any event, the house finches have carried on, and continue to do so, as evidenced by the following images of them enjoying their time in my crabapple tree.









I took the photographs in honor of Arbor Day, which in the state of New York, is celebrated on the last Friday in April, making the month a little less cruel.

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