Rambling Roads: Spring Forays

By George A. Hancock

April, our fourth month, begins on a Thursday this year. April is thirty days devoted to new spring growth. This morning runner views numerous spring sights on every run. The greening vegetation is the most visible sight.

Easter is a tad early this year following on Sunday, April 4. Mother Nature could still chill or even freeze the Eater parade. Plus, on this early Easter we don’t see a multitude of colorful spring flowers.

April is a fickle weather month. The first full spring month, yet wintry activity is still prevalent. Last year, cold snowy weather was evident on April 10 and April 16. Snow covered the grassy areas and the icy road spots presented tricky traction issues.

Early April runs are dark again. D.S.T. shifted the daylight to our evening hours. Cloudy mornings create a darker spring run. However, on clear to partly cloudy mornings runners again see increasing daylight. There is a nice dawn by April’s end.

Last April, warmer morning temps were absent. There were a few 50-degree morning runs. However, the morning run temps were average. These temps were neither warm nor cold. One was able to run in shorts but gloves and a hat were still needed.

April has that old quaint adage: “April showers bring May flowers.” However, reviewing data from my 2020 running log book reveals the opposite. I had a mere two rain runs last April. It rained on my April 24 and April 30 runs. Of course, it no doubt rained during other portions of those April days. However, my 2020 April runs were dry.

Running along April’s dry roads is a pleasant running treat. A nice treat especially after enduring or tolerating the winter season. Day after day running in cold blustery weather gets old quick. April generates a nice spring change.

One early April issue is the remaining roadside shale. Many municipalities lack the equipment to sweep up this debris. Thus, they must rely on a neighboring area for help. Or, they rent the cleaning equipment from a rental company. My borough rents the equipment. There is usually a wait list for this cleaning equipment. This means the road cleaning takes a tad longer. Longer than most locals prefer.

Running on this loose shale can get tricky. Sure it provides traction in the winter season. However, shale on dry roads means traction issues. It seems this shale is mainly on the roadsides and berms. The spots were runners tread.

Motorcycles or bicycles riding on this stuff always amazes me. The traction is dicey. A spill always hurts. I understand folks love to get out and move enjoying spring’s delightful weather. However, I believe it’s best to wait until the roads are fully cleaned before getting the bike out.

Another early April drawback is that the melting snow reveals the other winter debris. Roadside trash is visible again. This trash is everywhere too. Tossing litter seems second nature to many individuals. Thankfully, there are groups that quickly and efficiently gather and collect this roadside litter. 

The amount of trash bags I trot by amazes me. Many groups venture over the hillsides collecting the other tossed items. Car parts, computer items, tires, and construction materials frequently rest next to the trash bags. This sight is often surreal. This runner is happy and sad at the same time. Happy to see the clean roads but sad knowing the trash could return with the next passing vehicle.

April is really green by April’s final days. The roadside scene now has color. Plus, here and there spring flowers dot the local landscape. Dandelions and daffodils are the two most common plants I trot by. Of course, most homeowners and landscapers wish for less dandelions. These hearty weeds although colorful grow well. Their continued growth does rob nutrients from our yards.

April also brings us a welcome earthy smell. This annual spring smell is welcome by outdoor enthusiasts. It’s another sign that our local grounds are reviving after a winter’s nap. Our local growth cycle is beginning a season-long episode.

Those runners living near farm fields are frequently treated to another spring aroma. Many farmers spread manure across their fields. This rich experience quickens one’s pace as the runner flees from the olfactory onslaught. This is a running experience that all runners should embrace at least once.

Our spring forays continue on. Daylight continues to grow for the morning runner. We have entered a great running season. Enjoy! Run well, run smart!

Categories: Features

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