April is not the cruelest month…

…March is. Good riddance, I say. As Dave Foley’s character on NewsRadio once remarked, “Winter in Wisconsin is the nicest six months of the year!” (He was being sarcastic, of course—about the nice part, not the six months part, which is all too true.) As I write this, we’re shivering under four inches of fresh snow, and it’s already been cold FOREVER.

So many variations on the color gray: old-dishwater sky, petrified snowdrifts coated with car exhaust, slushy sidewalks, the frozen lake indistinguishable from the frozen shore beyond it. Even the bare trees are tired of being brown and are succumbing to a matte grayish-silver. I am starved for color. I’m done with winter, but winter isn’t done with me.

And so we soldier on through March, so aptly named, and so fortuitously divided by spring break. I think “Spring Break” is supposed to mean, “Hey, before you stick your head in the oven, why don’t you go someplace where it actually IS spring?” So I fled to Rome, again.

The Romans themselves are still walking around in overcoats and scarves. It’s actually kind of cute—“Brrr, these sixty-degree cloudless days are so chilly!” And though the city is blessed with a Mediterranean climate, it was still awfully early in the year. My favorite haunts were denuded of their usual foliage, still waiting for longer days and milder nights.

The Piazza De’ Mercanti in summer and early spring:
pza de mercanti summer

pza de mercanti winter

The ever-lovely Caffe Della Pace, once looking inviting and now slightly less so:

cdp summer

caffe della pace

Still, the sun revived me from a long winter stupor, and the color I craved was in abundance. It was in the flowers and veggies at the Campo De’ Fiori market:

fiori flowers

fiori veggies

It was in the freshly-squeezed blood orange juice at the local cafe, on every street corner, and in every window:

arancia rossa



It was on my plate at the taverna:



Metaphorically, was in the graffiti:

punk marat


[“A life without you is like a sky without stars.”]

It was in the mind-blowing blue of dusk in the Piazza Navona:


And so I came home with a new season in my heart, jet-lagged but energized for springtime and life in the outdoors. I eagerly await buying herbs at the farmer’s market, getting off the treadmill and onto the trails, flinging open the windows and letting the fresh air back in.

What pleasures and adventures do you dream of all winter? And what are your favorite rituals and signs of spring?

Here’s to April! You’re just in time!

17 responses to “April is not the cruelest month…”

  1. lane says:

    I love Italy, anytime. your so lucky to get to go.

  2. Rogan says:

    Nice before and after shots of some of those haunts. I like the graffiti, and I like the idea of traveling to a foreign country… alas it has been many years now since I have left our shores. At least I have Los Angeles, where a spring day can sneak into the schedule any week in the year. Thank you for your post!

  3. Rachel says:

    Thanks for rubbing it in, Rogan. It’s snowing here. In April. (And the graffiti’s not nearly as good, nor the pizza.)

  4. J-Man says:

    Thanks for the mini-vacay! Lovely pictures. Is that a pizza, or a salad, or both? Looks deeelicious!

  5. Dave says:

    Wow, is that really a pizza?

  6. Rachel says:

    Crust very lightly coated with tomato sauce, covered with cherry tomatoes, “cherry” fresh mozzarella (ciliege), and a handful of arugula. Amazing.

  7. LP says:

    Arugula on pizza = insanely great. Esp. with prosciutto.

  8. LP says:

    God, I sound like one of those chardonnay-sipping, sushi-loving, homosexual liberals.

  9. Tim says:

    I know this sounds perverse, but I always enjoyed a good April snowstorm when I lived in colder climes. Not only could I consider the snow to be the last throes of a dying season, but I would slap Prince’s Parade on the turntable and listen to “Sometimes It Snows in April” at high volume. Such a beautiful sad song.

  10. It snowed this morning here, too. Utah spring: snow in the morning, all melted by the time the sun sets.

    Anybody have a free pass to Oregon? I like rain.

  11. Stella says:

    I can’t imagine a sky without Stella either.

  12. 9


  13. by “cherry fresh mozzarella” I’m assuming you mean the little balls of fresh mozzarella, not fresh mozzarella flavored with cherries — because that would be a little gross. If I’m assuming correctly, that sounds pretty fantastic. Is the arugula/tomatoes/cheese cooked on the pizza or served on the cooked crust?

  14. Rachel says:

    All the toppings are fresh. The crust is a simple “pizza rossa” (just a super-thin layer of sauce applied before baking), so it wouldn’t be too hard to make at home. You could also just cook everything but the arugula and put that on last.

    I recently read about a guy who busted the safety lock on his oven’s self-cleaning cycle in order to get hot enough temps (at least 700 degrees) out of a home oven to make pizza. Sounds dangerous but delicious!

  15. Rachel says:

    By the way, LP, you’re hardly one of those “chardonnay-sipping, sushi-loving, homosexual liberals.” I mean, who drinks chardonnay anymore anyway?

    And #12, I can’t imagine a sky or a life without Stella, either.

  16. Jane says:

    Hooray for a News Radio reference.