In his landmark 1922 poem “The Waste Land,” T.S. Eliot disparaged April. That poem begins with this line: “April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land.”
Eliot was wrong. April is not the cruelest month; here in Minnesota, January is. I’d start my poem like this: “January is the cruelest month, bringing sub-zero blasts out of the polar land.”
In his Jan. 29 newsletter, Fargo Forum News Editor Matthew Von Pinnon listed his take on all 12 months of the year, from his least favorite (January) to favorite (May).
He wrote: “I know I should never wish time away, but I always struggle in January, and I usually can’t wait for this long, dark, cold month to pass . . . Though my two girls were born this month, their births were the only bright spots.”
Of May, he wrote this: “The flowers and trees are blooming, temps are mild and summer is in front of us.”
Then, Von Pinnon challenged his readers to make ratings lists of their own. Here’s mine:
12. January. My birth month, January is one long cold weary slog when it gets dark too early, and it makes me feel all too often like a prisoner serving solitary confinement while waiting for a pardon from the governor.
11. February. Almost as bad as January, with still more snow, more cold, blizzards, icy-slippery streets and more and more shoveling. But, at least, hope for spring begins to flicker like a pale flame.
10. August. Usually, this month is day after sweaty day of unbearable, ungodly, humid, wilting, hellish heat, made even worse by hordes of pests like mosquitoes, flies, gnats. Dog days. Miserable.
9. March. Though it’s a month of fickle weather, with slashing cold rain and blustering winds, it can bless us with surprising gifts of pleasant days. That flickering flame of hope for spring grows brighter.
8. November: It’s the frigid beckoning of Old Man Winter, but it’s tolerable, sort of, even helpful in a way, because neglected indoor chores, projects and hobbies can finally get done.
7. July. This month can be filled with wonderful sunshine-warm days and bright summer green as emeralds, but too often, at least in recent years, it’s as bad or even worse than hellish-hot August.
6. The first falling snows of December can be beautiful, especially if viewed from a large window in a warm room, and the Christmas season is always bright, fun and festive, but the threat of January soon bangs and barges in.
5. April. In the decades of yore, I always loved and welcomed this month, but in recent years it is too much like the butt-end of winter, too often cold, wet, windy. Still, April does have its charms, now and then.
4. May. At long last, lots of sunshine. The outdoor world starts to turn pale yellow-green. There is the smell of the good ancient earth warming up for the planting vegetables, flowers, herbs.
3. June. Summer in its glory when it’s not too hot. The perfect month to enjoy the great outdoors after a weary, dreary winter – bird song, barbecues, walks in parks, boating, lawn parties, camp fires, relaxing on the deck. June is a beauty!
2 and 1 (a tie for September and October). Fall is by far my favorite season, with its nostalgic ambience. It’s sweatshirt weather, with that exhilarating chill in the air, softened by the sun’s weakening warmth. Tree tops blaze with colors against cobalt skies. Leaves that smell like pencil shavings fall and skitter across the lawn, the sidewalks, the streets. Indian summer. Halloween. Ghouls and goblins and glowing pumpkins. Ah yes, perfection.
It would be fun to hear from readers: What are your favorite and least favorite months? And why.