The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 5, 2013

Andra Bryan Stefanoni: April such a fickle month

By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
Globe Staff Writer

PITTSBURG, Kan. — I’m so confused. I’m sure everyone else is, too.

A week ago Sunday, my husband and I headed to the Kansas woods for a glorious, picture-perfect turkey hunt on my 43rd birthday.

The sun was shining, the sky was blue, redbuds were in full bloom and the bird songs surrounded us as we waited with our backs to a cedar tree.

I bagged my first turkey that day, and as I hauled it back to the truck about a mile across the pasture, I perspired a bit as the mercury climbed into the low 70s.

April had started with that kind of mild weather, but by the second week we recorded a high of 54 followed by a high of 81 in just 24 hours. We weren’t sure whether to turn on the AC or the heat.

For several days, we shuffled the young hen pullets we’ve been raising between their new coop and the shed and then back out again.

By Wednesday, after two consecutive days of 80 degrees, I had moved my short-sleeved T-shirts to the front of the closet, painted my toenails in anticipation of wearing flip-flops and allowed the hens to stay outside in the coop for the first night.

I spent a lovely, sunny lunch hour that day eating a sandwich with them, then took a stroll along our bluebird trail and checked the boxes. Three eggs out of five in Box No. 3 had hatched! An egret was dining on tadpoles in our wetland! The chorus frogs were singing!

Spring surely was here to stay!

That evening, my husband fired up the grill, our boys shed their socks and shoes, and we ate al fresco on the patio for the first time this year. Pure heaven. I unplugged the electric blanket and opened the windows.

Then, as weather forecasters say, “The bottom dropped out.”

We scrambled to cover the vegetable gardens where the tops of tomato plants, pepper plants, eggplants and potato plants were peeking out of the soil.

Thursday night, it snowed.

Friday morning, I threw the flip-flops back under the bed and put on my boots and wool socks. I took photographs of my mums surrounded by mounds of the white stuff — a historic moment in Kansas worth documenting — and plugged the electric blanket back in.

Saturday, we headed to Roaring River, where we had been planning to camp for the weekend since I was scheduled to cover an event there. We chose instead to put on our fleece jackets and stay for just the day.

Temperatures struggled to get to 50 degrees.

Sunday, the mercury began climbing again, and if the May forecast is worth anything, it looks like that’s where it should stay for at least the next few weeks.

Whew! That’s a relief, because my T-shirts are confused, my toenails are confused and my chickens are confused.

The only thing positive I can find in all of it is a great story to tell one day when I’m old and swapping tall tales in the nursing home. Only mine won’t be tall at all — just pure truth.

“I remember back when I was a young whippersnapper and it snowed in May. It was the spring of 2013 ...”

Follow Andra Stefanoni on Facebook at facebook.com/andrajournalist and on Twitter @AndraStefanoni.