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A Breath Of April
by [?]

The day is veiled, but we catch such glimpses through the veil. The bees are getting pollen from the pussy-willows and soft maples, and the first honey from the arbutus.

It is at this time that the fruit and seed catalogues are interesting reading, and that the cuts of farm implements have a new fascination. The soil calls to one. All over the country, people are responding to the call, and are buying farms and moving upon them. My father and mother moved upon their farm in the spring of 1828; I moved here upon mine in March, 1874.

I see the farmers, now going along their stone fences and replacing the stones that the frost or the sheep and cattle have thrown off, and here and there laying up a bit of wall that has tumbled down.

There is rare music now in the unmusical call of the ph[oe]be-bird–it is so suggestive.

The drying road appeals to one as it never does at any other season. When I was a farm-boy, it was about this time that I used to get out of my boots for half an hour and let my bare feet feel the ground beneath them once more. There was a smooth, dry, level place in the road near home, and along this I used to run, and exult in that sense of lightfootedness which is so keen at such times. What a feeling of freedom, of emancipation, and of joy in the returning spring I used to experience in those warm April twilights!

I think every man whose youth was spent on the farm, whatever his life since, must have moments at this season when he longs to go back to the soil. How its sounds, its odors, its occupations, its associations, come back to him! Would he not like to return again to help rake up the litter of straw and stalks about the barn, or about the stack on the hill where the grass is starting? Would he not like to help pick the stone from the meadow, or mend the brush fence on the mountain where the sheep roam, or hunt up old Brindle’s calf in the woods, or gather oven-wood for his mother to start again the big brick oven with its dozen loaves of rye bread, or see the plow crowding the lingering snow-banks on the side-hill, or help his father break and swingle and hatchel the flax in the barnyard?

When I see a farm advertised for rent or for sale in the spring, I want to go at once and look it over. All the particulars interest me–so many acres of meadow-land, so many of woodland, so many of pasture–the garden, the orchard, the outbuildings, the springs, the creek–I see them all, and am already half in possession.

Even Thoreau felt this attraction, and recorded in his Journal: “I know of no more pleasing employment than to ride about the country with a companion very early in the spring, looking at farms with a view to purchasing, if not paying for them.”

Blessed is the man who loves the soil!