Spread lightly, virgin shower,
Your winding-sheet of snow;
Winter has lost his power,
But mock not at his woe.
-from The April Snow Storm – 1858, by Charles Sangster
How did the seasons come about? And why does winter turn to spring in the month of April?
A long time ago, half the world was a warm utopia of perpetual summer. And the animals who lived there selfishly kept the secret of summer to themselves. The animals in the other half of the world lived in endless winter – and they were slowly starving.
That’s the background in Murdo’s Story: A Legend From Northern Manitoba, as told by Murdo Scribe and illustrated by Terry Gallagher (1985, yellow dot).
The winter animals know that, in order to survive, they must steal the secret of summer. But the bag hiding that secret is carefully guarded.
Murdo’s Story explains how the animals were forced to come to an agreement, with the whole world greeting six months of winter, followed by six months of summer (based on the number of fingers and toes on Frog’s hands and feet). Winter begins in Freezing Moon – that’s November – and ends in Goose Moon, which is… April.
Of course, this tipping point means that there is often Snow In April. This is a light novel by romance writer Rosamunde Pilcher (1972, filed in adult fiction). Caroline takes one last trip before her wedding to the fiancé her stepmother wants her to marry. But plans go awry as our heroine gets caught in a snowstorm in a house in the woods, with a stranger. A man.
It’s a quick read, and you’ll want a cup of tea to keep warm as the white stuff slowly drifts down.
Ah, April. It’s also a lovely name, as in April Smith, author of 1994’s North Of Montana (the prairie state is too dry to be very snowy, however). This tome marks the first appearance of FBI Special Agent Ana Grey, and the Montana in question is actually a street in Los Angeles that separates the rich from the rest.
Grey is single, tiny, and hard-boiled: “Your idea of a tearjerker is Terminator,” she’s told rather drily. “That’s right. The robot dies and it’s sad.”
As we begin, Grey’s moment of professional triumph is derailed by her superiors, and she finds herself wrangling a drug-addled Hollywood star as punishment, with the boss, it seems, expecting her to fail. Along the way, a single mom is shot to death on the street, her hands removed as a public, vicious penance for an unknown crime. She is, possibly, or possibly not, a cousin of Ana Grey’s.
But Grey has seen the scam before, and firmly rejects the connection – as well as her Hispanic roots.
And with that, the game’s afoot.
– Eleanor Brown, April 5, 2013