By Paul Ulrich, columnist
Ice is breaking up on our lakes and rivers, the snow is slowly melting, and all signs point to spring. By all accounts this is a good sign. Months of frost-bitten, miserable sub-zero weather has given way to songbirds and hope.
Hope that we can fire up the grill without 17 layers of clothes. Hope that cabin fever fades to intermittent bouts of the brown bottle flu around a campfire.
For me, the hope of fly fishing without breaking ice off my line and dressing like the snowsuit kid in A Christmas Story.
April is the shepherd for spring, right? No, wrong.
April is Lucy to Charlie Brown. Better yet, April is Will Smith to Chris Rock. Cruel, taunting and designed to make us all look like fools for an entire month.
Meet April greeting Spring. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svRpduRStrY
Why my extreme bitterness for April?
Let us start with the obvious. The wind or the Nebraska suck, which is the primary reason for insanity in Wyoming. In Casper it never stops, which explains a lot, but the rest of us do get a break. Except in April.
Here in Pinedale, we apparently made a deal with the devil to trade the wind for arctic adjacent temperatures the rest of the year but whoever signed that contract didn’t read the fine print regarding April and here we are. Colder than Zoolander’s Blue Steel AND windy.
Mud also makes its arrival. Glorious spring mud that renders vehicles useless over 20 MPH and tends to freeze requiring a jackhammer to remove along with most of the paint.
You can’t take a walk in the hills without risk of losing your boots, dogs, or both. And most importantly you must get a part-time job to pay for car washes. Only in Wyoming, even in today’s gas prices, do you spend more at the car wash than gas station.
The weather variation is the last straw. 60 and sunny to below-freezing to snow, hail, and rain and back again. How to you pack for this? There are the frog, locust, lice, and boil plagues (probably). Finally, the maddening anticipation of when. When is the true, first good day to enjoy our great outdoors?
Don’t get me wrong, April has its moments. My cousin JD hosts the world-famous PEEP eating contest on the 10th. He is typically the only contestant but has stringed together an impressive 7-year winning streak.
For those of you interested the record stands at 237. Even more impressive is that every passing year his demeanor and general appearance more resembles a PEEP and that is awesome.
My son and I were both born in April, thanks Mom! Easter is typically in April and one of my favorite holidays. Hard to beat baked ham, scalloped potatoes and deviled eggs. Easter is also a beautiful holiday for family gatherings. Unless you are driving a light, high profile vehicle the roads are finally passable.
April also has some awesome people named after it. April Brimmer Kunz for example. Former State Senator and Wyoming’s first female president of the Wyoming Senate. April was an outstanding leader and legislator and she is an even more remarkable person.
So how do I reconcile the cruelty that wind, mud and April weather brings with peep-eating contests, birthdays and awesome people? Probably what you do, simply suffer through it and keep up the hope. I clearly suffer through with ample complaining but in truth enjoy the time to prepare.
Like you, I do get out as much as I can this month and it’s an excellent time to make sure gear is in shape. A great time to organize the garage, clean out the camper, prep the boat, re-arrange your fly or lure boxes, tune up the bikes and start making lists of weekend trips. Hit up your local outdoor shop for what you need and more importantly what you don’t but can’t wait to try.
Cheers, to the Month of May. (For my May column please see above and simply replace April with May.)