Not a foolish April

Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
Tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the ram his halve cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(so priketh hem nature in hir corages);
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,

Geoffrey Chaucer, from the Prologue to The Canterbury Tales

cropped3883When it comes to the history regarding April Fool’s Day, I put faith in no story. On the first of April, beginning somewhere around what seemed like 3 or 4 a.m. (I didn’t check a watch or clock) a steady fusillade, bursts of 4, 5 or 6 explosions, took place every five minutes or so until somewhere around noon.  I don’t know that it was a prank: most Mexicans don’t do anything prankishly on the first day of April; the day for those activities is December 28, the Feast Day of the Holy Innocents. If you’ve been pranked it’s possible to hear

Inocente palomita,
Que te dejaste engañar,
Sabiendo que en este día
Nada se debe prestar.

Innocent little dove,
You let yourself be fooled,
Knowing that on this day
Nothing should be lent.

One year I wore black slacks and had my behind dusted with flour by urchin-sized chicos, who had hid in doorways and had acted quite silently, except for their giggles and laughter, as they appeared and disappeared near-silently.  I like to think the man in today’s photo long ago was one to paint people’s backsides, who hopped away with spirit and glee and pride at his quickness and stealth.

The Dutchman (Michael Smith)

Steve Goodman’s versions of this song are perhaps the best known, and Michael Smith, the song’s composer, has lovely versions, but I liked the pictures that accompany John McDermott’s version.


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