Nearly one hundred years ago, T. S. Eliot wrote: “April is the cruelest month breeding / Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing / Memory and desire, stirring / Dull roots with spring rain.”
Anyone who has lived through brutal winters in Northern Illinois has little problem in agreeing with him. April, with its dull roots and lilacs, hides a secret: before spring rains come to visit and sunlight breathes life back into the dead land, there will be at least one more snowstorm.
Of course, “dead land” and “dull roots” are figures of speech. The land is never dead; during Winter it’s just asleep under the snow. April is the edge of the blade between Winter and Spring when the land wakes up and begins to blossom again, yet again.
These three images were part of an effort to draw edges between the last snowstorm and the dull roots, hidden under dirt, before green blossoms begin to appear. The curves of the fields fascinated me, and the shapes of the snow, and the flights of the ravens. But there’s another element: In each of the drawings you can see on the horizon in the distance little rectangular shapes. When I was drawing, they looked like rows of teeth.
In the years since the drawings, the fields have been uprooted, flattened, and have disappeared under asphalt and concrete. I imagine ravens are still around because they can adapt to anything, even highways and strip malls.
As for snowstorms, two of my brothers, who still live in Northern Illinois, tell me that recent winters have never been milder.