Saturday, April 15, 2017

CANTERBURY TALES




     

 Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote             
When April with its sweet-smelling showers
      The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
           
   Has pierced the drought of March to the root,
       And bathed every veyne in swich licour
           
   And bathed every vein (of the plants) in such liquid
       Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
           
   By the power of which the flower is created;   



Who can wake up on a sunny morning in April and not feel just as Chaucer's pilgrims felt seven hundred years ago that it's just the season to set out on a pilgrimage to seek foreign shores and distant shrines and especially to visit Canterbury?

In Washington state our sun shifts are quite extreme. Already in April the grey light of dawn is visible at five am. By six thirty, the sun has been up for awhile. I can still walk my dog at eight thirty at night and not need a flashlight. It would have been much the same in England almost a thousand years ago. And having no street lights or artificial light except lanterns, April would have provided long hours of lighted travel and pleasant weather for all adventurous travelers.

How delightful a journey Chaucer's pilgrims make, each telling a story to pass the time. I haven't read the full Canterbury tales, just one or two of the stories. But I had to learn the prologue in high school and have never forgotten the first lines, which evoke the spirit of April so aptly.

We must rescue April from the tax man and restore it to a season for celebrating the long days. I suppose for farmers, April is a busy time of much hard work. But we all welcome spring's return and a new season of growth and plenty.

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